As a math person i am not afraid of numbers or budgets, but a budget is more than just numbers. Much of the money from the federal government has strings attached to it so every penny has to come from the right pot and has to be spent in the right way.
It would be easier to block grant everything and allow the schools to just grab money and allocate it where they think it would work best. While that is an idea with some merit, what probably tends to happen is people start taking money and funding projects they think are great, but they might skip a bit on the research. The first few years might be great, but as the years go on some projects might start taking a bigger slice of the money with a smaller and smaller return. Meanwhile many quality reforms might go underfunded.
The idea that an schools must justify each dollar spent requires the board to start thinking about what is each dollar doing. Am I spending $4000 on that IWB because it will improve the education of my students or am I spending it because it makes teaching easier. Will the students perform better or learn more? Am I educating all students or just the majority? My vision says all my students are equal, does my funding say the same thing?
Schools are not google, we don’t have gold plated toilets and millionaires walking the halls. Yes it would be great to have the time and luxury of following passions for part of the time, the 20% time Google has, but in the end it might be better for schools to struggle at least a little bit. The is value in not having everything you need and being required to make do, or struggle. It is a generally accepted conventional wisdom that when kids get everything they want when they want it they generally turn out being spoiled.
The question is not should schools ask, “Is what I am funding supporting and furthering my vision?” The question is why does it require an outside force to make it happen.