“Peeling back” the Layers of Understanding in a District Department

When speaking with leaders and administrators, one insight we’ve gleaned in increasing efficiency and effectiveness is that districts don’t have easy access to critical information in the more granular areas within district departments. Due to limitations of state reports and other budgets, fund, function, and object code only get districts so far in understanding how well an area of concern is doing past surface-level type information. Not only is it surface-level, but typically only presented in a financial format.

This information is great for understanding from a bird’s-eye view on how to begin investigating for improvement, but doesn’t give the whole picture. There is much more to a department than just “total spending” or “percent of total spending” to know where there can be change. One district we spoke to recently had an issue with custodians using too many sick days, but didn’t quite know how it made an impact and how to present the case to improve this problem. The issue was that since their lead custodians were out sick, the substitute custodians weren’t as efficient as the leads, so more money was spent on the substitutes, increasing the overall spending in facilities.

We presented the Enlit tool to them, showing how this information could be peeled back starting from the top to understand why there’s higher spending in facilities. We start at spending, digging down one layer at a time, past financial factors and into non-financial factors that contribute to the overall spending of an area.

Digging deep gets you past the tip of the iceberg, so you can see from all angles how you are going to take on the areas that will improve your district finances.

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