School District Prioritizes Equity In New Budgeting Model

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — The Burlington School District has announced a new budgeting process for the next school year that prioritizes equity for schools to make sure students are getting what they need.

Principals and schools will have control over how money is spent, WPTZ-TV reported.

“The model that we’ve developed here isn’t about spending more or spending less. It’s about how do we ensure that for any given level of spending, we are able to allocate that money in a way that really serves our equity mission,” Nathan Lavery, the district’s executive director of finance and operations, said on Monday.

Each school will get a RISE — “Recognizing Injustice and Seeking Equity" — allocation to help close the opportunity gap. Resources will be distributed based on enrollment and need.

“I’m excited to see what each of the school communities come up with as far as what they would like to spend and how they would like to spend it,” said Clare Wool, Burlington’s school board chair.

“What has typically been an equal carving of a pie chart for a budget, it could potentially sway to those schools that need more resources,” Wool said.

The “Equitable Budgeting and Staffing Model” was created after the district got feedback from nearly 500 stakeholders. The district will also use COVID-19 relief funds to meet the equity goals, so the new model won’t impact taxpayers, Lavery said, according to the news station.

Each school will create an advisory group to figure out specific needs and gather input. The district will be launch a web form in the coming weeks to continue getting feedback.

“Part of what we really hope to achieve fundamentally with this new process is increasing engagement for the community and increasing equity for our children,” Lavery said.