While pondering the role of the CBO I couldn't help but think about an episode of The West Wing. In one episode the character Sam Seaborn is being interviewed about his process for writing the State of the Union. He said that before the President can bring an idea to the speech they first have to run it by the Office of Management and Budget. The interviewer asked why that is, and Sam says, "When the President announces a new program, the first thing people are going to ask is, How will we pay for it?" (Sorkin, 2001).
The CBO (Chief Business Officer) of a school district is a role that is extremely important, yet rather vague in both title and specific role. The CBO can be called anything, such as a Chief Financial Officer to a Director of Financial Services. The person who is performing those duties also varies from district to district. There can be one dedicated individual acting as the CBO, or there can be an individual such as a superintendent who, among all other duties, performs the duties of the CBO. In order to provide more consistency and direction in 2001, the Association of School Business Officials International adopted a set of professional standards that gave guidance and direction to the position of CBO. (Townley and Schmieder, 2015).
While I was teaching in North Carolina our school district was lauded by the Governor for being a model of how districts in the state should implement a technology program. We were completely one to one from all grades 6-12. Teachers had weekly professional development and 100% support from site based Instructional Technology Specialists. She came to one of our staff meetings and opened the floor up to questions. I asked her how she came up with the technology plan. What she said parallelled what Sam Seaborn told the interviewer. She said that the first thing to do is meet with the Chief FInancial Officer to come up with a budgetary plan for paying for the program. Then once the board approves that plan, meet with the head of Instructional Technology to craft a plan that will fit withing the auspices of the budgetary framework (Ellis, 2014).
This exchange that I had with Dr. Ellis demonstrates how the CBO can be a resource to a technology leader. Everything has to be paid for. As we have been discussing in our first two postings, everything begins and ends with the budget. We can have the best technology plan in the world, but if it can't be funded, then we are dead on arrival. Any technology plan should be included in the basic educational plan for the district, which is the main foci for the budget, and included as a goal contained in the LCAP. (Townley and Schmieder, 2015).
Another way the CBO can assist the technology program is to determine where the funds need to come from. My current school district is under FBI and Grand Jury investigation, and take my word for it, you do not want to work in a district that is under any sort of investigation. Having the CBO help cross the T's and dot the I's can ensure that the money comes from the correct fund and is spent the way it is supposed to be through the office of expenditure. (Townley and Schmieder, 2015).
I havn't had the chance to get to know anyone in my current school districts Financial Office, I did have a good working relationship with the CFO in my previous district. I would email him a request, and he would let me know what the budget dictated and then worked with me in preparing a future plan, or how to categorize the funds. The CBO can be a technology leaders best friend and a good partner in formulating long term strategic plans for your school, and the district as a whole.
Ellis, Dr. Mary. Personal Communication, April 2014).
Sorkin, A (writer), and Misiano, S (diretor). (7 February 2001). Bartlett's Third State of the Union (Television Series Episode). In John Wells Productions (producer), The West Wing. Burbank, CA: Warner Brothers.
Townley, A & Schmieder-Ramirez, J. (2015). School Finance: A California Perspective (10th ed.). Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.