Wildavsky (1986) has raised pertinent question about the evolution of budgeting at school level in these words:
From the time the caterpillar of budgetary evolution became the butterfly of budgetary reform, the line-item budget had been condemned as a reactionary throwback to its primitive larva. Budgeting, its critics claim, has been metamorphosed in reverse, an example of retrogression instead of progressâ€¦Yet, despite these faults, real and alleged, the traditional budget reigns supreme virtually everywhere, in practice if not in theory. Why? (Wildavsky 1986, p 313)
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According to the Education Reform Act (ERA) of 1988, Local Education Authorities (LEAs) are authorized to prepare local management of school (LMS) plans for all the primary and secondary schools within their assigned districts (Edwards and Ezzamel 1996). Board of governors of each school is responsible to devise and implement the financial management schemes out of the funds given to them by the LEA (Edwards and Ezzamel 1996). Authorities at the school level are autonomous to allocate funds according to their peculiar needs to yield maximum results in the form of higher student learningâ€™s (Edwards and Ezzamel 1996). This package of reforms by the government has set some assumptions for the management of schools (Edwards and Ezzamel 1996). For example it was assumed that these reforms will triggers change management programs in the educational institutions which ultimately improve their performance in terms of efficient transformation of knowledge to the students (Edwards and Ezzamel 1996).
The delegation of financial budgeting to schools was the integral part of this scheme which is also explicitly mentioned in the proposals of LMS (LMS Initiative 1988). Under the new setup, governors and senior teachers have to play many a new roles such as of defining the categories of budgets, the distribution of funds and determining the internal auditing mechanisms (LMS Initiative 1988). LMS has also provided detailed guidance for devising the budgeting techniques (LMS Initiative 1988). Governors and senior staff members, for example, are prohibited to use the iterative historical budgets (Edwards and Ezzamel 1996).
The Comprehensive budgeting scheme is definitely confronting in nature which has radically transformed the existing setup within the organization (Edwards and Ezzamel 1996). In response to this, Wiedenbaum (1970) commented that the procedure of funds allocation is â€œhardly deliberate and systematic choice among alternatives that economists try to envision. Rather, it is a fragmented and compartmentalized affair. Many of the key decisions are not made during the budget process or within the budgetary framework at allâ€? (p 233).
It is evident from the comments of Wiedenbaum (1970) in this respect; ‘zero-based budgeting’ is proposed to follow as a bench mark while pursuing the standard of comprehensive budgeting setup.
To figure out the challenges of budget deficit faced by school leaders is one of the main objectives of this research.
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