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Home > Ask an Expert > We’re facing really difficult budget decisions. What should we do?

Jim Hull, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Public Education

We’re facing really difficult budget decisions. What should we do?

A: Unfortunately, districts are now having to decide which effective programs to cut to balance their budgets.

Data will not make the difficult decisions easy, but it will definitely help. As the Center’s School Funding report shows, districts made the easy cuts long ago. Unfortunately, districts are now having to decide which effective programs to cut to balance their budgets. As difficult as these cuts are, data can help by showing the school board which programs are most effective at the least cost. Data can also help districts determine if effective programs can be scaled down to save costs by only providing it to the students who gain the most benefit.

Districts can also compare their data to similar districts to see what has been effective for those districts in cutting costs while still meeting students’ needs. Data isn’t the silver bullet that will cure districts’ financial troubles. But it is an invaluable tool districts can use to not only help guide and inform decisions, but to provide evidence when reporting back to their communities on why certain cuts were made. As we say in the Data First training, “The data made us do it!”