Tag: Management

Chocaholics, Beware of Vendors Bearing Gifts

Back when I started working for the Pretty Small School District, my boss would pass out tickets to professional hockey games.  She would say something like “Look, I have these tickets and I’m not that interested in hockey.”  So Spouse and I would go. I later found out that the tickets came from one of the district’s vendors. Back then

Read More

Oh Crap!

Some time back I was a passenger in a car that my friend was driving.  We were sideswiped by a 17-year-old driver in a massive truck.  This smashed the passenger side.  We were pushed into the central freeway barrier.  This smashed the driver’s side.  Then we spun around several times and ended up on the shoulder,

Read More

Winners, Losers and Political Sausage

When I attended the Edsource Symposium last May, the head of the state board of Education, Michael Kirst, got a bit testy when audience members started asking pointed questions about “winners and losers“.   Paraphrasing broadly, he said to forget the past funding formula.  It is over.  Stop comparing yourselves to others and stop talking about

Read More

What Does it Take to Get Fired?

Sometimes, Not Much The article Fatal IT Distractions lists mistakes that will lead to immediate dismissal in the IT world: things like forgetting to back up data nightly or not testing your disaster recovery plan prior to a disaster. This made me ponder.  What will get you fired in the world of school finance? I am not talking about obvious offenses

Read More

Schrödinger’s Excel

Or, how to be deadly and awesome at the same time Is Excel good or bad?  It is both.  Are you good at Excel or bad at it?  Probably both. Excel is extraordinary.  In the wrong hands it also can be a disaster,  Excel is just a tool, like a chisel.  It is inspiring in the hands of a skilled carpenter and murderous in

Read More

Zombie PowerPoint

or, Why PowerPoint Cannot Die The YouTube video Death by PowerPoint is really, well, to the point.  Yet, despite obvious abuses, PowerPoint is here to stay. Powerpoint is the perfect vehicle for bulleted and numbered lists. We are addicted to lists.  What do you think most people will click on: Study shows correlation between polyphenols and health, or

Read More

Make Them Cry “Uncle!”

My boss and mentor used to chastise me.  “Pile work on your staff until they cry ‘uncle’ ” she would say. Is that really a valid management technique?  Sounds a bit draconian. “Not at all,” she would counter.  “You don’t really know if they are working at full capacity until you give them too much

Read More

Budget Advisory Committees are Hard

When the Budget Advisory Committee was approaching my boss and I would look at each other and groan in unison “Ugh BAC!”  Why? It was not that we didn’t want to talk budget with the community.  Hey, we’ll talk your ear off with all sorts of budget geekiness if you let us.  It is because a BAC

Read More

Give Up Already!

I was still in bed when I heard such frightful swearing from the kitchen.  Upon investigation I discovered that Spouse had impaled his index finger on a nail and was trying to open up a “bandaid”.  Not a brand name Band-Aid, mind you, but a cheap generic version thereof.  He handed it to me.  Here

Read More

When School Districts Borrow

This an outstanding guide to school district debt financing by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP.  While the guide references California law, it is useful in understanding public school finance in general. School district administrators in California function in a complex financial universe that increasingly requires familiarity with and use of sophisticated tax-exempt public finance techniques to finance

Read More