Budgeting for Success
More than five years ago, Georgia introduced sweeping decentralization reforms, the first step towards putting school management into the hands of local principals like Darejan Saralidze, who leads a school in the city of Terjola in western Georgia. However, because many principals lacked the skills or tools to manage their school budgets, they struggled to cover standard operating costs with their allocated budget. To cover these costs, schools were often forced to request additional funding from the Ministry of Education and Science. In turn, the government looked to save costs by consolidating deficit schools with others nearby, often moving children from the schools their families chose for them to attend.
Before working with the USAID-funded Education Management Project (EMP), Principal Saralidze found herself in just such a situation, with her school facing consolidation. Fortunately, she participated in an EMP-sponsored training along with 377 other principals from across Georgia to build her financial and human resource management skills. In the course of the interactive training, Ms. Saralidze talked through real-life scenarios with fellow participants, role-playing how she would respond to different challenges given recent legislation on education, procurement procedures, and job recruitment standards.
During the training, Principal Saralidze learned to better manage her budget and found a way to reallocate 6,000 GEL ($3,400), balancing her school's budget. Ms. Saralidze's solution was to increase the number of students per class from 17 to 25, thereby eliminating operating costs associated with extra classes without significantly impacting educational quality. In addition, to help meet future needs, Ms. Saralidze left the training with a plan to generate additional school income by using the school's facilities for fundraising activities during non-school hours.
USAID will continue similar trainings, and by 2012, will train 1,000 principals like Ms. Saralidze, helping them to find similar cost-effective strategies to better manage their schools for students' success.
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