The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will bring an unparalleled amount of federal funds into our schools -what’s your plan? Money brings opportunities for innovation, restoration, and change. But what innovations or restorations or changes are needed? ? Before any of those questions can or should be answered there are plenty more to be asked to optimize ARPA funding opportunities for short and long term results.
Our communities deserve your best thinking
In a recent Letter to Parents and Students, Education Secretary Cardona stated “Our nation’s students deserve – and they will get – our very best efforts, our most collaborative thinking, and our deepest belief in their abilities.” When it comes to budgeting, our community members also deserve our very best efforts and our most collaborative thinking on how their investment in education will be used.
Asking questions can help you “get it right”
As lotteries winners know, all kinds of distant friends and relatives come out of the woodwork to help you spend your money. Before you jump to restore all old practices or purchase and/or implement the newest and shiniest solutions, STOP. Asking the right questions (from Situation Appraisal) right now can help you “think before you leap.”
Here are some questions to consider:
Identify the issues
- What do we need to consider in figuring out how to use these monies?
- What stipulations/requirements exist for using the money?
- What results are we looking for? Long and short term?
- Who needs to be involved and how?
Clarify the issues
- How will we decide how to use the monies to ensure fairness, equity, and results?
- What would different stakeholders want to see accomplished with this money?
- What existing needs could this money best address?
- What emerging needs should be addressed?
- How can we capitalize on “silver lining” results (or opportunities) that came out of the last 12 months?
Prioritize the Issues
- How would we prioritize these? What are the short and long term results we need to pursue first?
- What changes/expenditures would allow us to get the most mileage from the money now and in the future?
- Are these one-time costs or would they require ongoing support?
- What are the risks of not making certain investments? If we do nothing in certain areas, what are the risks?
All spending areas deserve your best thinking
Regardless of which area of available money areas you are looking at – dealing with learning loss, tackling SEL challenges, upgrading facilities, fostering strong community supports or preparing a pipeline of effective, ever-ready leaders – you will need to stop and think before you start to plan. Ask the right questions to address the issues or barriers you need to identify to succeed.