Year after year, school operations professionals work hard at stretching available dollars to meet the needs of the variety of programs within their school district.
As each new initiative is introduced, strains are placed on existing capacity to provide service. Transportation is required to expand boundaries, challenging its key performance indicators (KPIs) on ride time, seat utilization and on-time arrival rate to fall within acceptable parameters.
Breakfast participation rate, an integral KPI for food service, carries much of its success on the shoulders of transportation’s on-time arrival rate. On-time arrival rate is dependent in part on procurement’s KPI of strategic sourcing ratio. Simply put, strategic sourcing is organized agency buying that directly affects the available contracts for goods and services — i.e., items under contract are readily accessible, while others are not.
We are not naïve to the fact that we are support services; our goal is to ensure barriers do not exist in the education of a child. I have spoken to several districts whose personnel do not see a value in KPIs. Data is not the absolute end-all, but after 30-plus years in public education, I simply cannot see how we can function without it.
How refreshing it would be to build a business case for all programs, looking at a return on investment (ROI) for initiatives within public education. For-profit companies look at ROI in every business decision — why shouldn’t we?
Our returns are graduation rates, drop-out prevention rates and academic gains. If we looked at an ROI on the programs we provide in these terms, how many would we keep and how many would we discard? How many would we replicate that would reduce costs and increase student achievement?
I see a paradigm shift that is vital: one that identifies cost per program so decisions use a base of data to support goals and objectives, not just the old methodology of “sounds good to me.”
To many, this way of thinking is a threat because it is a change of culture — not only in our way of work, but in that we now have to develop business plans to achieve strategic goals within the organization.
To my colleagues in education who have been called upon to be change agents in our field, I am excited for you and what the future holds. Change can bring renewed spirit, greater insight and a new perspective that can be contagious and exciting. I wish you all well.
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