How Much Will This Cost?

There are no cost data for transforming an entire school system. Instead, change leaders need to use cost data that are available for school-building level change; for example, the Rand Corporation collected cost data as part of the New American Schools’ efforts to introduce the school reform models to school systems. Using these kinds of available data, change leaders can 1) predict the cost of transforming a single school in their districts; 2) scale-up those costs to predict the cost of transforming their entire district; and 3) scale-up the district-wide costs for a multi-year change process.

There is no doubt that the cost of transforming an entire average-size school system (one high school and several middle and elementary schools) will be several million dollars over 5 to 7 years. Roughly 35% of the money needed can be found by reallocating dollars in a district’s existing budget. “Extra” money will need to be appropriated from community financial resources, from state and federal departments of education, and from private philanthropic organizations.

While a combination of existing dollars and “extra” dollars will be needed to engage for the first time in transformational change, the process of transformational change should not be conceived as a one-time event. Instead, it should be conceived as a never-ending journey toward higher and higher levels of performance. Conceived in this way, a school district should create a permanent line in their district’s operational budget to fund transformational change for the life of the school district.

A longer article about paying for transformational change is found at: Financing Systemic Change.(187 KB PDF)