#NCGA: MORE money for public education? Try being smarter with what you’ve got.

legislatureJust try to implement some kind of frugality in public education budgets.  You’ll get all kinds of teeth-gnashing, wailing and crying about starving tha lil’ chil’ren. 

The Round Rev and his Moral Monday rabble have hollered about the alleged starvation and destruction of the public schools by budget-cutters and conservatives.  Democrats are trying to run for the legislature by moaning about Republicans under-funding public education.

Well, the Program Evaluation Division of the North Carolina General Assembly has tossed a monkey wrench into all of that spin.  They’ve issued a report indicating that “improved administrative program monitoring by The Department of Public Instruction Can Save Over $19 million annually.” 

DPI is run by superintendent June Atkinson, a Democrat elected statewide independent of the governor.  It is charged with administering all of the state’s public K-12 educational entities.  Here is the nuts-and-bolts of what the NCGA report said:

As directed by the North Carolina General Assembly’s Joint Legislative june
Program Evaluation Oversight Committee, this evaluation examines the
efficiency and effectiveness of the administrative services delivered by
the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).[…]

The cost to provide these administrative services could be reduced by
$19.5 million annually without adversely affecting North Carolina’s
public school students. These cost savings could be realized by changing
the formula to allocate funds for school bus operations and reducing
textbook warehouse staffing to reflect current operational requirements.
An additional $6.1 million of non-recurring savings could also be realized
by reducing the statewide fleet of spare school buses and the inventory of
school bus replacement parts to the level necessary to meet operational

DPI does not have a performance management system that ensures its
administrative programs and activities are effectively contributing to the
vision of the State’s public school system.

What are the recommendations for addressing these concerns? :

To address these findings, the General Assembly should:

  •  direct DPI to take specific actions to ensure improvements in the
    efficiency of its administrative services are effectively implementedmoney board
    and that the associated cost savings are realized; and
  • require DPI to design and implement a performance management
    system that ensures administrative support programs effectively

    contribute to the vision of the North Carolina public school system
    and includes processes for identifying and monitoring the
    achievement of program objectives, the efficiency of program
    activities, and the adequacy of associated procedures.

In addition, the State Board of Education should develop strategic goals
that can be used to guide administrative support programs toward
achievement of the State’s vision for the public school system.

Here is the division’s full report.  And, if you’re in the mood for walking on the wild side, here is the PowerPoint presentation presented to legislators.