Monday, January 9, 2012

New York: Let's run schools more efficiently

State of the state season is upon us. One of the first governors to deliver a state of the state address was Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York. Among Governor Cuomo's proposals: appointing a bipartisan education commission to work with the legislature to recommend reforms in critical areas, including management efficiency.

Approaches already implemented in Virginia and Texas may provide food for thought for this proposed commission. Virginia legislation requires the department of planning and budget, upon a district's request, to initiate a review of the district's noninstructional expenditures. This review should identify opportunities to improve operational efficiencies and reduce costs for the division in such areas as overhead, human resources, procurement, facilities use and management, financial management, transportation, technology planning, and energy management. School districts must pay 25% of the cost of the review in the fiscal year following the completion of the final report.

Texas takes a slightly different approach. Legislation directs the comptroller to identify districts and campuses that use resource allocation practices that contribute to high academic achievement and cost-effective operations. In doing so, the comptroller must ensure resources are being used for instruction, and must evaluate the operating cost for each student and for each program, and the staffing cost for each student.

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