Five Principles to Guide Spending Decisions
 School Administrator, August 2021

Unlike most federal dollars, the federal relief funds from the American Rescue Plan are highly flexible. But with flexibility comes great responsibility to get it right. Toward that end, here are five key principles to guide district spending decisions:

»Commit to a multiyear spending plan.

Avoid adding new recurring costs to avert a disruptive fiscal cliff. Maintain a long-term financial forecast.

»Seek targeted investments to increase learning time for students who need it most.

Be creative about adding more time for students where appropriate. Focus those investments on students who are struggling academically.

»Consider how equitably funds are applied across schools.

Compute dollars per student for each school.

»Honor the promise to taxpayers to focus on students and relief.

Compute the per-student costs or cost per extra student hour to ensure spending is reasonable. Find ways to measure effects on students and ensure success. Be nimble and adjust plans as needed.

»Be transparent and ensure broad participation in spending decisions.

Engage parents, communities and especially boards on spending choices. Invite principal feedback on whether investments match the needs of their students. Apply proper procurement protocols. Publicly share all investments, providers and intended benefits.