Since 1998 I’ve been in charge of managing large budgets, teams of people and everyone’s expectations. It’s tricky to step into a new school and try to make decisions on the following year’s budget without having a clue as to what the “norms” are in that community. Department heads, other directors and faculty all want to make sure you know that whatever it is they are asking for in next year’s budget is the most important item and therefore you should approve it.
If there is one thing I’ve learned all these years is that you must rely on several people’s advice when making purchasing decisions. These people are the Head of School, area directors, but, most importantly, the Director of Finance / Business Manager. This person has the best information in any school I’ve ever visited. S/he has the history of purchases, costs, who they were for, if these ever turned out to be good or bad purchases, etc… Since turnaround in international schools is high compared to US-based independent schools, it is important also to know who wants to purchase what. In may cases a newly-hired director or department head may want to make a profound programatic change which requires a large investment on your part. These are scenarios where other area directors, the Head of School and even some Board members must involved as it may end up being your project should the person wanting the change leave.