Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting

The Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting is an early adopter group of 90-plus school districts working on implementing GFOA's Best Practices in School Budgeting. A part of the Smarter School Spending initiative, the Alliance first met in 2015 and includes a diverse group of districts from across the United States. Member districts range in size from several hundred students to several hundred thousand students, representing a broad range of student performance and other key demographics as well.

Participants in the Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting will enjoy benefits such as access to resource materials as well as hands-on training to help them throughout the implementation process. More importantly, Alliance members will be able to network with their peer organizations to share their experiences and knowledge. In addition, GFOA will provide financial support to member districts that give presentations on the Best Practices in School Budgeting at outside conferences.

Requirements for membership in the Alliance include:

  1. Participation in the annual Alliance conference by district leaders from both the finance and academic departments.
  2. Willingness to adopt the Best Practices in School Budgeting.
  3. Openness to sharing your experiences with future Alliance members.

To learn more about the Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting, please visit the Membership FAQ.

All members and prospective members are invited to the Fall 2020 Alliance Conference in Chicago on November 5-6. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Matt Bubness.

  • Register for the Fall 2020 Conference - coming soon

 The two-day event will provide participants with an overview of the Best Practices in School Budgeting and also more in depth discussion, exercises, and practical examples of key portions of the enhanced budget process framework. The conference will consist of self-assessments, group exercises, networking activities, and facilitated discussions — all centered on the best practices framework, examples from districts implementing the best practices, and other supporting content. Portions of the event will be geared towards the finance and academic sides separately in order to share challenges anonymously to facilitate a broader discussion on improving collaboration, specifically during the budget process — a key tenant of the best practices. Additional emphasis will be placed on the initial steps of the best practices framework — including enhancing communications and engagement strategies; improving goals, strategies for achieving goals, and measuring performance; and also finding additional opportunities for cost savings to fund strategies for increasing student outcomes. These emphasized areas will help serve as the foundation for an enhanced budget process that focuses on aligning scarce resources to optimizing student achievement.

Click on map for a list of Alliance members.

"Being a member of GFOA's Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting has allowed Fort Atkinson to connect to national resources we would have never otherwise had access to. It has also allowed us to build relationships with colleagues in similar situations across the country to learn from them how they approach certain issues and effectively leverage resources for the most impact. Above all, it has greatly strengthened our learning and critical thinking as educational leaders, so that we can more strategically consider how we invest our resources to create the next generation of leaders."

- Jason Demerath, Director of Business Services, School District of Fort Atkinson (Wisconsin)

 "Our efforts to prioritize and fund district goals for student learning have taken a leap forward through our work with the Alliance for Smarter School Spending.  We have ongoing conversations now between finance and our teaching and learning administrators that don't just look at the number of FTEs, but how we are deploying the staff resources that we have.  In just these first few years, we know that we are making a difference for kids from how we are using our curriculum to how we are providing intervention supports."
- Kristen Behnke, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance, Pittsfield Public Schools (Massachusetts)

"Our work with the GFOA’s Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting has provided us with the necessary tools and expanded network to take our budgeting process to another level.  We are finally able to allocate resources that are aligned to our strategic plan and driven by the programs and services needed for the education of our 52,000 students."

- Scott Gooding, Executive Director, Budget and Financial Management, Columbus City Schools (Ohio)


 Matt Malinowski, business manager for the Upper Moreland School District in Moreland, Pennsylvania, reflects on his participation in the Alliance:


Other Resources


The Smarter School Spending website presents a wide range of tools, examples from school districts, and other free resources to help guide districts in implementing an improved budget process that incorporates the recommended practices advocated for within GFOA's Best Practices for School Budgeting.


Best Practices in School Budgeting:

GFOA has developed the Best Practices in School Budgeting and numerous related resources and supports in order to help school districts better align their limited resources with their student outcome and achievement goals.