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Participatory Budgeting and Approved Alternatives

Each school year, all schools identified for the Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) model must implement a Participatory Budgeting process or select from an approved list of alternatives to Participatory Budgeting designed to increase student and family participation in decision making.

Participatory Budgeting

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a process that allows community members to decide together how to spend part of a public budget. The process is intended to strengthen public input and deepen public engagement in the civic organizations designed to service the public. Often decision-making rests in the hands of leaders identified to represent their constituencies. The PB model supports direct democracy, allowing parents and students to vote for the projects to be funded.

PB allows schools to engage students, parents, teachers, and community members in choosing a school program or improvement to fund. The process builds understanding of stakeholder perspectives, directs funds to pressing needs and innovative ideas, and helps students and other community members learn democracy and active citizenship.

How Participatory Budgeting Works in Schools

PB often follows a defined model that consists of multiple stages:

1. First, the school identifies the amount of money to be set aside for PB.

2. Next, parents, students, and teachers brainstorm ideas and develop proposals on how they money may be spent to improve the school.

3. Then, a Steering Committee reviews the proposals and identifies the final proposals that will appear on the school ballot.

4. Finally, the student body and the parents of the school vote on the proposals. The proposal(s) with the most votes are funded.

Approved Alternatives

Schools identified for the CSI model have the opportunity to implement any of the approved alternatives to Participatory Budgeting.  The alternatives build on essential components of Participatory Budgeting: expanding stakeholder voice, providing opportunities to practice democracy, and promoting civic engagement.  A current list of approved alternatives can be found here: Approved Alternatives for Participatory Budgeting


NYSED has developed guidebooks to support schools identified for the CSI model with the implementation of their identified Engagement option and outline the parameters that schools identified for the CSI model must follow.

Participatory Budgeting Guidebook
Ongoing School Surveys Guidebook
School Focus Groups Guidebook
Schoolwide Voting Guidebook
School Climate Survey Inquiry Team Guidebook