School Business Affairs May 2019 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | MAY 2019 5 “ P lanning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” This statement by time man- agement author Alan Lakein embodies what school business officials and other school district leaders do on a daily basis in order to achieve district goals: they look at relevant data, objectives, and forecasts and determine a future course of action. The terms “planning” and “forecasting” are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are different processes. Planning is the pro- cess of thinking about and plotting future actions. Planning outlines the district’s direc- tion; budgeting then documents how the plan is executed month to month and long-term. Forecasting is a planning tool that helps orga- nizations estimate future performance. Although forecasting plays a major role in the planning process, it involves some guesswork and is based in large part on the organization’s current performance, past per- formance, experience, and judgment. Forecast- ing helps the organization anticipate results based on past experience, and as new informa- tion is available, the forecast can be adjusted. Effective, efficient planning and forecasting require school district leaders to have vision and use reflective and open-minded thinking, decision-making skills, and creativity. For example, two of the most critical fore- casting activities school business officials and other district leaders conduct are student enrollment (demographic) and budget (finan- cial) projections. Projecting student enrollment and levels of financial resources are key pro- cesses in school district leaders’ planning and operational decisions related to: School capacity/utilization —Do the enroll- ment projections indicate the need for more or less instructional space? Which schools are projected to experience enrollment growth or decline? Does the projected enrollment growth or decline appear to be short-term or long-term? Budget —Do the budget or financial projec- tions predict growth or decline in revenue? How will future increases in expenditures affect the budget? Do the projections reflect budget shortfalls or budget surpluses? Do the projections identify the potential of exceeding government-imposed caps or limits? Staffing —How do the projections impact future staffing levels or allocations at the school and district levels? Do the projections signal a potential need to reduce staff or need/ opportunity to add staff? Programs and Services —Will the projected enrollment or availability of resources affect the ability to sustain existing levels of pro- grams and services or need/opportunity to add or modify programs and services? School business officials also typically par- ticipate in or lead strategic planning, capital (equipment) planning, curriculum planning, facilities/infrastructure planning, technology planning, and school safety and security plan- ning. Given the wide variety of areas in which school business officials work, collaboration is key to ensuring the insights, perspectives, and collective thinking of staff across the district are considered. School districts that embrace planning as a norm for doing business recognize that each of their planning efforts should be unique. They also recognize that in most planning efforts, the “process” is equally important, and in some instances more important, than the plan itself. Bringing the Future into the Present By Tom Wohlleber, CSRM president’s message Tom Wohlleber Chief Financial Officer Casa Grande (Arizona) Elementary School District Charles E. Peterson, Jr. MBA, PRSBA, SFO Immediate Past President Marvin Dereef Jr., SFO Director through 2020 Bill Sutter, SFO Director through 2020 Michael Johnston Director through 2019 Angela Von Essen Director through 2019 2019 Board of Directors WORKING TOGETHER to ma ke a difference Claire Hertz, CSBA, SFO Vice President Susan Harkin Director through 2021 John Hutchison, CPA, SFO Director through 2021 David J. Lewis Executive Director