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Lake County Schools


District Information

$308 million

The Challenge

Rapid growth, where the revenues needed to keep up with growth weren’t materializing. Student achievement was suffering as a result.


The board unanimously adopted a strategic financial plan that aligned financial capacity with student achievement goals. LCSD built on this momentum, making Smarter School Spending integral to how decisions are made at LCSD.
Susan Moxley, Superintendent
"Money is not increasing. We must invest our dollars in the most efficient and effective way possible, and that requires us to really go back and analyze. It requires us to be incredibly innovative in our approach to how we optimize resources.”
Susan Moxley, Superintendent

LCSD was growing rapidly, but the revenues needed to keep up with growth weren’t materializing and student achievement was suffering as a result. LCSD decided to embark upon the Smarter School Spending journey to put an end to reactive, short-term budget cutting and, thereby, enable a long-term, coherent approach to reaching its student achievement goals. LCSD took on an accelerated implementation schedule for smarter school spending, putting in place a complete process within one year. Though stressful, these efforts were successful – the school board unanimously adopted a long-term, strategic plan that aligned the District’s financial capacity with its student achievement goals. LCSD has since continued on this journey, creating even greater alignment between finance and academics and making Smarter School Spending practices integral to how decisions are made at LCSD. 


  • LCSD has identified a concise set of SMARTER goals and has consistently pursued them over multiple years
  • LCSD has adopted two strategic financial plans, both with widespread support due to the collaborative nature of the planning process.
  • Due to a diverse portfolio of cost-saving strategies, LCSD was able to redirect almost $10 million to its academic priorities, away from lower priority activities.


Lessons Learned

  • Know “why” you are doing Smarter School Spending. You can use this as inspiration during the rough patches.
  • If Smarter School Spending is a journey, then it is a marathon and not a sprint.
  • If you use consultants, have them teach you to fish.
  • Have a diverse portfolio of strategies.