Process

Process

The process below supports districts in creating a strong long-term budget and plan for equitable SEL funding to meet the needs of all schools, as well as human resources practices that embed SEL considerations into candidate screening, hiring, evaluation, and employment policies at the district and school levels. Use the Rubric to assess your current level of implementation.

Below you’ll find steps for Aligning Financial Resources to Support SEL and for Aligning Human Resources to Support SEL (Jump to Aligning Human Resources).

Aligning Financial Resources to Support SEL:

1. Build your understanding of the financial resources needed for SEL implementation.

Budgets for SEL implementation are typically limited, and it’s common for districts to underfund their SEL initiatives. When this happens, districts may find they’re unable to support implementatio…More

Budgets for SEL implementation are typically limited, and it’s common for districts to underfund their SEL initiatives. When this happens, districts may find they’re unable to support implementation. The process outlined below integrates resources and tools from CASEL’s Financial Sustainability for Social and Emotional Learning website to provide a step-by-step guide for laying a solid financial foundation for SEL implementation. If you’re new to budget management, you may first wish to review the Build your Knowledge section.

There you’ll find:

  • A video outlining the five keys to successful social and emotional learning.
  • A brief about planning for financial sustainability
  • A brief with seven lessons learned from studying the budgets and sustainability efforts of four school districts.

It’s also helpful to review how other school districts rolled out SEL and how they budgeted to advance and sustain SEL.  You can review case studies for four school districts that utilized different strategies to implement SEL across all schools and grade levels in their districts.

Varying in size, region, and demographics, these districts demonstrate a range of approaches to budgeting for SEL. You can see a quick summary of their budgets here.

2. Identify areas in your district’s current budget and priorities that may support SEL implementation.

Begin by examining existing financial resources and how your district funds priorities. This means taking a close look at:

  • Your district’s existing budget.
  • Your district’s pri…More

Begin by examining existing financial resources and how your district funds priorities. This means taking a close look at:

  • Your district’s existing budget.
  • Your district’s priorities and goals, and how those priorities are funded.
  • The resources currently dedicated to SEL (funding, staff, etc.).
  • Funds for existing programs that could be reallocated to support SEL.

You’ll find a Strengths and Needs Inventory: Vision, Priority, and SEL Alignment in the SEL Financial Sustainability Planning Tool that can help you get a clearer sense of your district’s opportunities and challenges for supporting SEL.

Based on your review, determine:

  • How SEL fits with or supports your district’s current priorities.
  • Which current efforts within your district can be leveraged to support and implement SEL.
  • What potential resource barriers could impede SEL implementation.
  • Your district’s current financial and human resource capacity for implementing SEL districtwide.

3. Estimate the cost of SEL implementation for your district.

The Financial Sustainability for Social and Emotional Learning website offers a cost calculator that can help you get a handle on the cost of implementation. When you enter data about your school district, the tool provides estimates for a six-year budget for SEL implementation based on the models employed in the four case-study districts: Austin, Tex.; Chicago, Ill.; Washoe County, Nev.; and Wheaton-Warrenville, Ill.

Since human resources and financial resources are so closely connected, you’ll want to identify the personnel you need to support SEL implementation (See the process for aligning human resources below). As you’re analyzing your budgetary needs, you’ll need to factor in the costs of new staff. Similarly, if you have budgetary limitations, you may need to rethink how you will leverage your current staff against your SEL needs.

To develop an estimate, you’ll want to consider:

  • The total number of students and schools served by your districts.
  • Programming, curriculum, materials, professional learning, coaching, and other services that may be needed to support SEL.
  • Resources needed to expand and sustain SEL long-term.
  • Resources to ensure that the SEL needs of all schools are equitably addressed.
  • Staff to direct, coordinate and continuously improve districtwide SEL strategy.
  • Staff to provide ongoing SEL implementation support and technical assistance to schools.
  • Staff to support SEL-related data collection and analysis.
  • Administrative supports.

4. Work with your SEL leadership group to analyze costs and build a budget for SEL implementation.

The SEL District Cost Modeling Discussion Guide available on the Financial Sustainability for Social and Emotional Learning website provides a process for using data from the site’s cost calculator and other local data to draft an expense and income budget.

Another useful tool is the SEL Budget Planning Tool, which is a spreadsheet you can download and use to enter data and projections for the district. Consider using a projector or screen-sharing software so your team can work collaboratively with this planning tool.

If your SEL leadership team does not have a fiscal expert who understands the school district budget and spreadsheets, it’s strongly recommended that you invite your chief fiscal officer or someone from the budget department. Involving your chief fiscal officer early in the SEL planning process will improve your plan and will help you build sustainable strategies into your multi-year effort.

5. Establish multiple, diversified sources for funding.

To ensure the stability of your financial resources, you’ll want to leverage funding from a range of sources. This helps sustain SEL implementation beyond district budget cuts or time-limited grant…More

To ensure the stability of your financial resources, you’ll want to leverage funding from a range of sources. This helps sustain SEL implementation beyond district budget cuts or time-limited grants. You’ll want to pull from a combination of existing district funds that could be reallocated or streamlined to support SEL, as well as potential new sources of support including donors, foundations, research organizations, governments, and other groups.

New sources may include:

  • Federal and state grants: School districts have experienced success in writing proposals targeted toward SEL implementation, as well as integrating SEL into another content area. For example, improving mathematics achievement with SEL as one of the interventions. Building partnerships among cabinet level to co-write proposals is an excellent strategy. RAND’s Social and Emotional Learning Interventions under the Every Student Succeeds Act, George Washington University’s Center on Education Policy’s Guide to Federal Education Programs That Can Fund K-12 Universal Prevention and Social and Emotional Learning Activities, and the Grantsmanship Center can provide a starting point for research into funding.
  • Philanthropic fund development: While many districts have support for grant-writing and federal and state projects, few have a department to support raising funds from foundations and donors. Partnering with your local educational foundation, civic groups, community foundations, and municipal funding collaboratives is a great way to begin your journey in philanthropic work. Often your superintendent and board members will know of donors and foundations who may be interested in funding SEL.

With well-documented academic, mental health, college and career, and other outcomes, SEL is a school-reform priority of tremendous interest to local, regional, national funders. When approaching potential grantors, you may want to:

6. Propose a final SEL budget for approval (if needed).

If you’re developing an SEL budget apart from your annual district budget process, determine which leaders need to approve the budget for implementation to begin. Determine if you need to communica…More

If you’re developing an SEL budget apart from your annual district budget process, determine which leaders need to approve the budget for implementation to begin. Determine if you need to communicate your SEL budget and human resources decisions to the district or school leaders.

7. Assess the stability of funds at least annually.

Conduct an annual risk assessment of funds and staff positions that support SEL. Are any grants ending? Are any leadership or political changes threatening to pull funds away from SEL? Are any staf…More

Conduct an annual risk assessment of funds and staff positions that support SEL. Are any grants ending? Are any leadership or political changes threatening to pull funds away from SEL? Are any staff cuts expected?

  • If you are losing funds in the next two years, repeat the steps in this process to identify new funding resources that could fill budget shortcomings.
  • If your funds are at risk due to leadership changes, leverage any partnerships with other districts with SEL expertise and civic and social service organizations to increase SEL advocacy to district and city officials. Increase communication internally and in public forums to share positive outcomes of SEL for students in your district.

8. Maintain effective communications with funders.

Share successes and outcome data with funders at least twice annually.

Here are some samples:

Share successes and outcome data with funders at least twice annually.

Here are some samples:

Schedule site visits annually (or more frequently) so funders can see SEL in action. This is the most powerful way to communicate the impact of SEL.

Align Human Resources to Support SEL:

1. Identify highly-qualified, diverse staff to lead and support SEL implementation.

While staffing may vary across districts, it is critical to engage or recruit an SEL lead or director to oversee implementation and drive forward the district’s vision for SEL. This person should h…More

While staffing may vary across districts, it is critical to engage or recruit an SEL lead or director to oversee implementation and drive forward the district’s vision for SEL. This person should have access to district leaders (including the superintendent) and direct links to those responsible for curriculum and instruction, school leadership, professional learning, and other functions connected to SEL implementation. Here are some sample job descriptions of leadership roles in SEL:

In addition, depending on the size of your district, you may wish to add other SEL support roles to round out your SEL team, such as:

  • SEL coach: The SEL coach supports SEL leadership teams and teachers as they incorporate SEL into the classroom and wider school community.
  • SEL coordinator: In larger districts, you may want to include an additional layer of support between the director and those staff who work directly with schools to ensure that the SEL vision is translated into practice (though in smaller districts, the SEL director or lead may also fulfill this function).
  • SEL specialists: Some districts include content experts who support SEL practice in areas such as integrating SEL standards into core academic content, school climate, or SEL for families. This role is sometimes combined with SEL coach.
  • SEL-focused research analyst: The research analyst helps develop evaluation designs, manages and oversees data collection and analysis, and reports evaluation results. This position may be housed in your district’s research department.
  • SEL parent outreach coordinator: The role creates and sustains a SEL family-engagement curriculum that offers relevant and meaningful learning experiences that empower parents to reinforce SEL instruction in the home environment.

When building your SEL team, we recommend considering the diversity in your district to ensure an SEL team that is representative of those who they’ll be serving

2. Look for ways to invest staff within key central administration departments with formal responsibility and accountability for advancing SEL.

Since SEL is most effective and sustainable when integrated across district functions, you’ll want to encourage your district to assign accountability for SEL integration to particular staff within…More

Since SEL is most effective and sustainable when integrated across district functions, you’ll want to encourage your district to assign accountability for SEL integration to particular staff within the central office.

Your superintendent may wish to assign particular responsibilities regarding SEL, or the SEL lead may invite staff in various departments to collaborate to determine accountability and responsibility.

Also, consider “cross-training” existing staff such as behavioral specialists and restorative practice specialists in SEL so that they can incorporate SEL into their areas of specialization and provide additional support to overarching SEL efforts.

3. Embed SEL and diversity considerations into your recruitment, interview, and hiring practices to identify candidates who will promote SEL.

In partnership with your district’s human resources department, identify key SEL-related competencies that are critical for the district and school positions. Then, review and update job postings a…More

In partnership with your district’s human resources department, identify key SEL-related competencies that are critical for the district and school positions. Then, review and update job postings and descriptions to highlight the importance of modeling SEL competencies.

Look for ways to incorporate SEL into your discussions with candidates for teaching and superintendent positions. Here are some interview questions you can use or adapt:

4. Embed SEL considerations into evaluation and employment policies at the district and school levels.

After SEL is embedded into job descriptions, you’ll want to ensure SEL becomes an expected competency for staff throughout the district and schools. Work with your human resources department to exa…More

After SEL is embedded into job descriptions, you’ll want to ensure SEL becomes an expected competency for staff throughout the district and schools. Work with your human resources department to examine evaluation and employment policies to determine where SEL-related competencies already exist and where they could be enhanced. Consider how to communicate and support staff in meeting these expectations (see Focus Area 2).

If needed, you may also want to consider including SEL professional learning and implementation activities in union contracts. This ensures that SEL becomes a standard professional responsibility for key staff, including teachers, instructional coaches, and school counselors.

As an example, look at the Cleveland Teachers Union Agreement from 2013 through 2016, which includes provisions regarding the role of the district’s HumanWare/Social Emotional Learning Committee.

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