An Example of a State Taking Ownership to Increase Efficiency

A few years ago, the state of Delaware brought in a consulting group to help make recommendations for improving the fiscal efficiency of the state education system and to help reallocate funds among the priorities at the time. Ultimately, they wanted to be able to put more money towards student achievement. The consulting group brought in support from their many years experience in both the private and public sector.

the-old-school-1548001Although a small state, the group thought Delaware was quite the microcosm for American education, given its high poverty areas, growing suburbs, and range of farmland, so the recommendations may contribute on more of a nationwide scale.

After studying the state and its education system for four months, the group found many recommendations that are similar to what Enlīt has been encountering over the last six years or so. The list below are some of what the consulting group found on opportunities to bolster its district efficiency, effectiveness, productivity, and so on to put money back in the classroom towards student achievement:

  • Comparison to other states – Even though not everything is apples to apples, this info provides solid high-level comparison
  • Comparison of school districts within the state – Although some comparisons will be different, there is much closer and granulated benchmarking available at this level
  • Comparison with best practices in other industries – This is an interesting piece. Even though completely different businesses, the group noted some similarities among like operations. Take procurement for instance. Applying customized application of best practices such as systematically managing relationships with suppliers, bundling, standardization, and more elicit opportunities for likewise comparison.
  • Identification of budget items inconsistent with public policy objectives – This has to do with politically charged inefficiencies such as the state providing transportation subsidies to families who choose to send their kids to private institutions
  • Range of cost-efficiency recommendations in student transportation, purchasing, energy, benefits, construction, and administration and central support

In the end, the group offered some amazing recommendations that mounted to range from 9-17% of the addressable dollars, equating to somewhere between $86-158 million possible dollars to be saved and used for student achievement.

As much as we love hearing stories like this, the truth is this $86-158 million is only areas of opportunity and not dollars actually saved! The change begins when the state begins to make those moves to realize these potential dollars. The group said Delaware was making moves, but also noted that the jury was still out to find the actual impact. A bittersweet reminder that while identifying change is becoming easier and easier, the real transformation happens when sleeves are rolled up to make progress.

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