Last year, in the middle of some of the toughest budget decisions in recent Olympia School District memory, the District publicized a list of potential cuts, allowing citizens an unprecedented level of transparency in the budget process. What was missing? Interactivity.
To fill in the gap, I took data from District PDF files and created a somewhat hurky spreadsheet, so you could play around with the figures and try to balance the budget on your own.
If I had any coding skills, I would've added something like the City of Olympia is offering now. "Constrained prioritization" is the name of the game: you rate services or priorities from 1-4, but you're forced to limit each rating to only 11 out of the 44 choices--in other words, you can't put everything as a "1" or a "4." It's hard. (Sorry, Parks and Recreation.)
It's not a perfect survey, but it's a step. Next time the OSD stares down another tough budget--and you can bet that's going to be soon--it would do well to collect its constituents' input in a similar fashion.
[Link via Mathias Eichler.]