Smarter Budgets, Smarter Schools

How to Survive and Thrive in Tight Times

Smarter Budgets, Smarter Schools was written to help district leaders, school board members, building principals, policy makers and others raise student achievement despite declining resources. From the book's ideas and stories, we know it is possible but it isn't always easy or fun. This book and companion website can help make the challenge a bit easier (but unfortunately can't make budgeting more fun).

Here, you can purchase the book and download interactive versions of some of the worksheets from the text. You can also print and share PDFs of a selection of "10 Best Ideas" lists. And lastly, since nearly all school districts are facing similar challenges, we have also provided you with a way to share your wisdom and experience of how to survive and thrive in tight times.

What Others are Saying

From class size to curriculum, from nurses to libraries, from paraprofessionals to administrators, no subject escapes the objective scrutiny that Levenson brings to every line of the budget. In times of acute budget shortages, the author makes a compelling case for rational, if sometimes unpopular, choices that place the interests of children above those of adults.

Douglas B. Reeves,
Founder, The Leadership and Learning Center

"Levenson's timely book provides specific guidance and examples of how leaders can streamline their operations while keeping dollars in the classroom. Levenson also offers critical advice on how to negotiate the cultural and political barriers that educators often face when seeking financial efficiencies. Smarter Budgets, Smarter Schools is a book forward-thinking educational leaders, policy makers, and advocates should have on their shelves."

Frederick M. Hess, Director of Education Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute

"Many authors talk about restructuring, reimagining, or transforming school districts. Nate Levenson shows you how to accomplish this across the many facets of any school district's operations. His 'crazy ideas' are not so crazy when you stop to think about their implications. In fact, if implemented, you might just create the model school district of the future—driven by student success."

Jack Dale,
Superintendent, Fairfax County Public Schools

"This is an invaluable superintendent and school board member resource: clear and concise, but also bold and courageous in describing what we have to do to get control of school budgeting. Here is the master plan with insight and relevant case examples that will have readers thinking differently in perilous economic times."

Glenn Koocher,
Executive Director, MA Association of School Committees

"Anyone who thinks finance is a dry subject hasn't read this book. Levenson presents a new framework for maximizing benefit at a particular expenditure level, and then fills the pages with fresh and desperately needed ideas about how to rethink resources in ways not typically considered in the district allocation process. At a time when district leaders face tough decisions about how best to spend their limited dollars, this book is an absolute must-read."

Marguerite Roza,
Research Associate Professor, University of Washington