Syllabus for EDL-680



The primary focus of this course is on the development of school and district budgets and budget forecasting, with consideration of the impact of local, state, and federal funding laws on budget development processes. Students will (1) examine the cyclical nature of budget development and how school budgets are collaboratively constructed; (2) compare and contrast expenditures of like districts; (3) analyze a budget; (4) review various models for implementing a budget and project how the budget should be implemented and coordinated to align with the educational vision; and (5) forecast future fiscal needs based on variables such as enrollment trends, population projections, state reimbursements for student attendances, and housing pattern changes. School financing will be examined through the lens of historical, current, and future funding issues. (ISLLC 3; NJDOE 3).


After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Discuss the impact of historical, current, and future funding issues on school financing.
  2. Identify all of the components of a budget and explain why each is critical to the budget development process.
  3. Identify current enrollment trends in your community and predict how these enrollment trends might impact staffing, fiscal planning, budget development, and forecasting.
  4. Compare and contrast selected fiscal planning and budgeting data of similar and dissimilar DFG districts and the state.
  5. Explain the importance of capital-outlay programs and rulings, state and federal support of capital outlays, and school bonding practices in funding school and district capital projects, and create a plan for greater state support for the construction of local school buildings.
  6. Identify and discuss the impact of local, state, and federal school financing and program laws such as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) on financing education.
  7. Discuss the economic, non-economic, and social benefits of education on the economy.
  8. Identify sources of revenue and various funding sources, tell how each can be used to finance a school budget, and prepare a detailed budget of revenues and expenditures based on identified needs such as facilities, staffing, program, and student needs as well as enrollment trends and state and federal mandates.


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the University's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Textbook

  • Brimley, V., Jr., Verstegen, D. A., & Garfield, R. R. (2012). Financing Education in a Climate of Change (11th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education.

ISBN-13: 978-0137071364

Electronic Portfolio Registration

As a capstone experience in the Educational Leadership program, you will prepare an electronic portfolio that demonstrates your incremental achievement of the program standards. Each course in the program helps you to identify artifacts to place in your portfolio on completion of the course. To this end, you are required to purchase an electronic portfolio registration code upon your entry into the Master of Arts in Educational Leadership program. Basic directions for purchasing access to and using your electronic portfolio are posted within the Educational Leadership Students Organization (online community).


Budget Forecasting and Fiscal Planning is a three-credit online graduate course, consisting of eleven modules. Modules include topics, learning objectives, study materials, and activities. Module titles and topics are listed below.


Economics of education


Education as human capital


Creation of wealth and education


Education as an important industry


Education as a public sector responsibility


Economics and social progress


Economic benefits of education


Noneconomic benefits of education


Taxation and education


Cost-quality relationship in education


Societal impact on educational needs


How education deserves a higher priority and the public demand for improvement


Demographic and social change


Consequences of not educating people on society


The inequalities of financing education


The equalization principle and improving state practices


Foundation programs


Developing patterns and determining the best financing plan


Full state funding


Property reassessment and local district revenues


District power equalization


Emphasis on weighting factors and the various types


The taxation system


Characteristics of a good tax system


Taxes for education


Private foundations


School and business partnerships


Diminishing local control


How both urban and rural economics affect education


Governance under local control


Local fiscal control


Advantages of local control


Tax responsibility (local, state, and federal)


Early development of a state’s responsibility


Decentralization of educational systems


Development of school finance policies


State's ability to support education


Various state programs


U.S. Department of Education


Advantages and disadvantages of receiving federal funds


The role of the U.S. Constitution


Federal expenditure and increased service


The future of federal aid to education


Power of the court before 1971


Court cases equity and adequacy


Pressure for reform


Factors limiting financing reform


Finance reform or tax reduction


Funds for nonpublic education: a controversial issue


Intervention of the courts


Separation of church and state


Educational choice and vouchers


Financing capital-outlay projects


School budget process


GAAP accounting process




Annual audits


The expanded role of human resources




Teachers and school finance


Administrators and supervisory salaries


Governmental influence


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in online discussion forums, complete writing assignments, and complete three reports—a detailed report based on an interview with your business administrator, a report based on your annual school performance report, and a school budget. See below for more details.

Consult the Course Calendar for assignment due dates.

Discussion Forums

Each module in the course has an asynchronous discussion forum.

Online discussions provide an opportunity for you to interact with your classmates. During this aspect of the course, you respond to prompts that assist you in developing your ideas, you share those ideas with your classmates, and you comment on their posts. Discussion board interactions promote development of a community of learners, critical thinking, and exploratory learning.

Most discussion activities contain several activity questions. Be sure your posting addresses all of them.

Please participate in online discussions as you would in constructive face-to-face discussions. You are expected to post well-reasoned and thoughtful reflections for each item, making reference, as appropriate, to your textbook readings and any other sources you may use, including Web sites. You are also expected to reply to your classmates' posts in a respectful, professional, and courteous manner. You may, of course, post questions asking for clarification or further elucidation on a topic.

Writing Assignments

You are required to complete eleven short writing assignments of about 500 words. The writing assignments are on a variety of topics associated with the course modules. They require you to write well-reasoned and thoughtful papers on questions derived from the lesson objectives, making reference, as appropriate, to the readings and other sources of information. You are required to use APA format (current guidelines) for your work and for all references.


Interview Report

You will conduct and report on an interview with your school or district business administrator about the budget process. The purpose of this exercise is to give you, as a future administrator, first-hand experience with what is involved in preparing a school budget and with all of its various components. See Interview Report for further details, and consult the course Calendar for the report's due date.

School Performance Report

In a second report, you will review and analyze your school performance report. In analyzing the performance report you will see how your school compares to state schools in your peer group. See School Performance Report for further details, and consult the course Calendar for the report's due date.

School Budget Project

For your final project, you will prepare a school budget for one of three grade configurations (K–5, 6–8, or 9–12). The budget will be based on information provided and will give you an opportunity to incorporate what you learned earlier in your interview of the business administrator. See School Budget Project for further details, and consult the Course Calendar for the project's due date.

Portfolio Artifacts and Reflective Narrative

The principal artifacts for this course are the interview report, school performance report, and school budget project.

Place your artifacts in the Artifacts area of your electronic folio. You can also link your artifacts (designated as "Work") to ISLLC standards listed in the Resources area of the e-folio. Keep your work in "draft" or "ready for feedback" status for now.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:


















Below 73

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or higher on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., assignments, discussion postings, projects, etc.). Graduate students must maintain a B average overall to remain in good academic standing.


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to maintaining academic quality, excellence, and honesty. The University expects all members of its community to share the commitment to academic integrity, an essential component of a quality academic experience.

Students at Thomas Edison State University are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

All members of the University community are responsible for reviewing the Academic Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog and online at

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State University expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the University insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to helping students understand the seriousness of plagiarism, which is defined as using the work and ideas of others without proper citation. The University takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing are subject to discipline under the academic code of conduct policy.

If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > “Citing Sources.”)

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance and originality report checking, click the links provided below.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism

When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Writing Assistance at Smarthinking

Originality Report Checking at Turnitin

Disciplinary Process for Plagiarism

Acts of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism violate the Academic Code of Conduct.

If an incident of plagiarism is an isolated minor oversight or an obvious result of ignorance of proper citation requirements, the mentor may handle the matter as a learning exercise. Appropriate consequences may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool in addition to a lower grade for the assignment or course. The mentor will notify the student and appropriate dean of the consequence by e-mail.

If the plagiarism appears intentional and/or is more than an isolated incident, the mentor will refer the matter to the appropriate dean, who will gather information about the violation(s) from the mentor and student, as necessary. The dean will review the matter and notify the student in writing of the specifics of the charge and the sanction to be imposed.

Possible sanctions include:

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