Book Review

Stretching the School Dollar

How Schools and Districts Can Save Money While Serving Students Best

edited by Frederick M. Hess and Eric Osberg, Harvard Education Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2010,
360 pp., $27.95 softcover


Books on school finance are not new. Books that courageously speak the truth about federal, state and local school finance, while offering solutions, are rare.


Frederick Hess and Eric Osberg have edited a combination of chapters in Stretching the School Dollar: How Schools and Districts Can Save Money While Serving Students Best that provide truth about current expenditures, courageous examinations of data and some necessary solutions.

Stretching the School Dollar

They could not have predicted the fiscal “rebellions” that state capitols would experience, the faces of teachers marching on legislators and the movement challenging collective bargaining in 2011, yet the book fits well into this new reality.

This book not only challenges financing education and how we are doing it, but gives the reader pause for the “why.” If those critics outside of education used even some ideas in these pages to challenge what we are doing, how would we respond?

In the search for fiscal solutions, Stretching the School Dollar does not recognize any sacred cows. Advanced placement classes, textbook costs, transportation issues, faculty, staff, food service, administrative inputs and cost analysis should all be considered when creating budgets.

The strategies represent a broad range of professional experiences, practical applications, process tools and real examples.

Reviewed by John Patrick Closen, assistant professor of educational leadership, Western Illinois University, Moline, Ill.