Leading Schools in Tough Economic Times

The extraordinary economic crisis worldwide has caused many people to rethink their priorities. During this crisis, we have witnessed people losing their homes, massive job losses, and banks and other financial institutions going bankrupt. This crisis has touched every segment of our society and we are now witnessing it creep into the financial resources of the public school system.

During this time of crisis, many schools have to tighten their belts. This can mean that schools can lose staff and academic programs and in many places anything beyond the bare necessities are being eliminated in order to weather this financial storm. Things can appear hopeless to school leaders when they assess their resources and they are unable to provide the same services that they did just five years ago.

How does a leader deal with these conditions? He/she must refocus the school on its fundamental purpose, the education of children. Tough economic times can oft times teach us a lesson about priorities. These times can make us assess which things are really critical and which expenditures or resources truly support the goal of student learning. Companies that go into bankruptcy reorganization oft-times emerge more efficient and more viable as a result of a temporary hardship. As long as we have access to students, we can have great schools. Learning can take place anywhere and under any condition if we properly engage the minds of young people.

To leaders who are struggling through these times, I make the following recommendations:

  1. Reconnect your educators to the noble cause of education; educating children
  2. Maximize your resources! Don’t be afraid to spend, but do your research and only spend your scarce resources on the things that support student growth.
  3. Be the example! If leaders whine and constantly voice frustration about lack of resources it will become contagious. Remember, you are the leader!
  4. Look at the current state of affairs as an opportunity to reorganize and become more efficient. The public school system is not going anywhere and good economic times will eventually return. Money is helpful, but money does not teach kids!