to Achieve World-class Schools
---Committee identifies $86M-$158M that could be reallocated annually---
(Dover, De.) Today, the Leadership for Education Achievement in Delaware (LEAD) Committee, established by Governor Ruth Ann Minner in June 2007 under Executive Order 98, formally completed the first of three assignments designed to help build a world-class public education system as recommended by Vision 2015.
The Committee, representing public, private, and civic sectors, has presented to the Governor its Cost Efficiency Study, which has identified efficiency opportunities with an annual value of $86M to $158M within the state’s $1.65B education budget. With full and successful implementation of the study’s recommendations, these funds could be reallocated to efforts that directly impact student achievement. The study, which is one of only a few in the nation with such a comprehensive and statewide scope, was intended to identify how Delaware can spend its education dollars smarter focusing on what is best for the children of Delaware.
In presenting the study to the Governor, LEAD Committee chair Marvin N. “Skip” Schoenhals, Chairman of WSFS Bank, and vice chair Valerie A. Woodruff, Secretary of Delaware’s Department of Education stated, “We must ask ourselves whether each dollar we spend today is the best investment we can make in our future. If we are to provide a world-class education to every student, we must invest the state’s limited resources in those efforts that will deliver the greatest results for our students.”
The LEAD Committee’s findings result from intensive study, analysis and discussion. The Committee based its findings on line-item analyses of state and local education budgets and funding policies; a thorough examination of more than 24 Delaware-specific education finance reports and studies from 1987 to the present; extensive interviews with stakeholders and outside experts; and comparisons with relevant spending policies in other states and localities. Two concerns prompted the LEAD Committee study: it is clear that Delaware’s commitment to build a world-class public education system will be limited by tight fiscal conditions unless current funds can be spent more efficiently; and the current education funding system is composed of individual policies and practices instituted over time, which in their totality have resulted in inefficiencies. The LEAD study was intended to evaluate the system as a whole and to address the cost to our schools of individual decisions that weren’t explicitly focused on student achievement.
The study identified sixteen efficiency recommendations in seven categories (figures represent annual savings opportunities): Transportation, Purchasing, Energy, Salary and Benefits, Construction, Administration and Central Support, and the Delaware Department of Education. Total savings are divided among operating expenses and capital expenses. Savings would be captured at the state, district, and school levels. In order to fully realize these savings opportunities, investments of resources may be required and savings could take years to fully capture.
Research and analysis for the Cost Efficiency Study was conducted under the direction of the LEAD Committee by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and was funded privately by the Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee (DBREC). LEAD Committee member Connie Bond Stuart, President of PNC Bank Delaware stated, “This was a very important investment by the business community, yet one that we believe will help every child in Delaware. This level of research and analysis is unprecedented, and we are looking forward to working with policymakers to ensure the reallocation of funds toward the priorities set forth in Vision 2015.”
The LEAD report acknowledges that few opportunities will be easy to realize, and that there will be “challenges of political will, fidelity of execution, or both.” Detailed planning will be required to ensure that intended goals are met. Yet the benefits to Delaware’s youth of smarter education spending are undeniable. “Many of the recommendations are just common sense,” added Mr. Schoenhals. “For example, if we work together in shared purchasing among districts and charter schools, we can get a better price on things like technology and art supplies then reinvest that money in efforts we know will improve student achievement.”
In accepting the report, Governor Minner thanked the Committee for its intense focus. “I am very pleased with what the LEAD Committee has managed to accomplish in a short period of time. The potential cost savings identified in this report are impressive, and I look forward to working with Secretary Woodruff, Office of Management and Budget Director Jennifer Davis and members of the General Assembly to identify the immediate changes we can make to start saving the state money. My sincere thanks go to members of the LEAD Committee for their hard work and valuable recommendations.”
In the months ahead, the LEAD Committee will address two other tasks, as called for in Executive Order #98: the development of an easy-to-understand “performance dashboard” with at-a-glance information on how well individual schools, districts, and the state are meeting student achievement and other goals; and a study that offers better ways of generating and distributing education dollars, including consideration of a weighted funding formula that accounts for individual student needs.
The full Cost Efficiency Study report, along with detailed appendices can be found on the Department of Education’s website at: http://www.doe.k12.de.us/reports_data/lead.shtml
NOTE: Governor Minner’s Executive Order 98 tasked the LEAD Committee with three assignments: produce a report on how Delaware spends public education funds with recommendations on how those dollars could be spent more efficiently; help develop an easy-to-understand “performance dashboard” with at-a-glance information on how well individual schools, districts, and the state are meeting student achievement and other goals; produce a report that offers better ways of generating and distributing education dollars, including consideration of a weighted funding formula that accounts for individual student needs. Both houses of the General Assembly unanimously passed Senate Joint Resolution 7, offering support for Vision 2015 and encouraging cooperation with the LEAD Committee.
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, Delaware 19901
Phone: (302) 735-4035
Fax: (302) 739-4654
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