APQC: Process management can improve education

While still ongoing, the projects showed promising results. A project to reduce textbook order errors has saved one district an estimated $150,000 up to now, and a transportation project to improve accident prevention has saved its district $264,000 so far.

The Iredell-Statesville Schools in North Carolina implemented a dropout prevention program and immediately saw a 3-percent reduction in its dropout rate. The district forecasted a 20-percent decline over the next six years. It also freed up $4 million in energy savings for other programs.

Montgomery County, Md., schools realized that purchasing energy via a wholesale model would save about $2 million a year. A cooperative inter-agency bidding process for employee health-care services is expected to save about $4 million over three years.

“We are facing a $140 million budget deficit in Montgomery County Public Schools,” said Jerry Weast, the district’s superintendent. “Our work with APQC … has helped us know where and how to make intelligent budget cuts that minimize the negative impact on college and work readiness for our students.”

On average, participating districts have saved about $1.6 million and 39,000 labor hours apiece.

Jan Borman, executive director of student achievement and professional development in Colorado’s Poudre School District Online Academy, turned to APQC to help the district manage its online course system.

Borman said she and her colleagues had reservations upon entering the North Star Project, but soon saw relief.

“Now we’re seeing some huge gains. It’s really broken down the silos, and people feel empowered,” she said.

Borman said the district was losing students to other online academies and knew it would see those losses reflected in its budget. Within 10 years, 50 percent of K-12 courses are projected to be taken online in Colorado, she said.

Students enrolled in the district’s online academy can take home-based or hybrid classes, and K-12 students from multiple districts are enrolled.

“It wasn’t, ‘Learn the process and apply it,’ it was, ‘Pick a process, and we’ll teach you the process as you’re going through it,'” Borman said.

Schools that want to become involved should examine their current practices.

“Map the process–that’s the simplest and best way to start,” Grayson said. “I want this to spread to every part of the nation.”


The North Star Project

Laura Ascione

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