Beyond the Edge: Play the Long Game Before the Fiscal Cliff Hits - Creatively Focused

Beyond the Edge: Play the Long Game Before the Fiscal Cliff Hits

With Insights from Glenda Butterfield-Boldig, Superintendent of Bowler School District (WI)

“Superintendents are facing funding issues like never before. As we consider how to optimize these funds and navigate uncharted territory, we have to consider what will foster sustainable systems and ensure long-term fiscal responsibility.”  Glenda Butterfield-Boldig

School Districts are teetering on the brink of a fiscal cliff, with $58 billion left to allocate from the $190 billion set aside by Congress in three rounds of funding to address unforeseen setbacks caused by the pandemic.

The recent release of the White House’s blueprint for academic recovery has tutoring at its forefront. The Department of Education announced in late 2023 that, while schools have to obligate funds by September 30, 2024, they can continue to use funds until Jan. 28, 2025. Schools can also receive extensions for up to 14 months after the January deadline with approval from the Department of Education. 

With less than eight months until the initial deadline, states and school districts are in a race against time to strategically decide how to spend the remaining dollars. The urgency stems from the risk of leaving money on the table and missing out on a new framework for managing resources and activities that contribute to successful outcomes.


Gaining Clarity on What is Needed

Education leaders found themselves thrust into unprecedented situations, prompting a shift into survival mode. In response, many adopted creative and innovative funding approaches that were remarkably impactful for both student outcomes and teacher satisfaction. This involved investments such as tutoring programs, delivering educational resources to students’ homes, repurposing bus drivers, improving literacy curriculums, organizing professional development training, and enhancing infrastructure like adding air conditioning for student comfort. 

Then, a realization dawned – these creative strategies weren’t sustainable without continued funding. 

Now, education leaders are reshuffling resources and identifying areas for cuts, looking to redirect funds where they can achieve desired outcomes more sustainably.

Now that the crisis has passed, sustainability is the name of the game. 

As district bank accounts swell, so does the risk of potential waste, misuse, and questionable spending.



Building a Sustainable Future

The goal is to use these one-time funds in a way that has a lasting impact, not just for now, but for years into the future.

Much like receiving a bonus at work, districts must allocate funds for sustained, annual costs rather than using one-time dollars for long-term expenses. Hiring staff with tenured commitments beyond the available funding creates budgetary challenges down the road. 

“In Bowler, we rely on vendors who are genuine partners, not just a line item in the budget that will give advice,” said Glenda. “We look for those who can answer questions and problem-solve in areas that impact the whole school. By leaning on these partners, my focus remains on leading the district, confident that they will help fill gaps in my system. The time is now to accept that post-pandemic education is different.”

In the grand scheme of things, it’s not just about navigating the immediate fiscal challenges but about playing the long game. It’s time to invest thoughtfully, looking beyond the ESSER funds and into long-term solutions that will create a positive ripple effect across your administrative team, educators, and students. 


The Creatively Focused Difference

Creatively Focused is that strategic solution for scaling the fiscal cliff. We don’t just show up at implementation; we become an extension of your team, aligning with your district’s values and championing your cause every step of the way. 

Our platform is consistently equipped with the latest tools and resources, offering on-demand guidance and support, assistance with task management, and professional development tools for teachers, paraprofessionals, and more. The technology is intentionally designed to evolve alongside you. Moreover, it fosters a more connected educator community, reducing burnout and contributing to enhanced retention.

As leaders, leaving a legacy means establishing lasting systems and support frameworks that transcend your time in office. Creatively Focused plays a pivotal role in this endeavor by alleviating the workload for your staff. Additionally, we offer the resources and support necessary for them to feel fulfilled, confident, and assured that their expertise is making a tangible and lasting impact. 

Creatively Focused empowers special education teams to focus on what truly matters – the students. This enables them to make a tangible impact on student’s lives as they prepare them for the real world, all while enjoying a sustainable and rewarding career path.

“I appreciate the personalized service and support that the Creatively Focused team has provided since day one,” said Glenda. “They not only offer effective services but also take the time to understand our unique needs, providing tailored solutions that ensure our success. Their partnership allows me to focus on leading the district instead of constantly developing new training for new staff. It also gives me the ability to provide resources to my current staff when they need help improving their methods of serving students.”

Where Heart Meets Mind at 


If you’re struggling to understand how to make your budget work for you, there are other education funding sources available.