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Friday, December 21, 2012

FCPS Participating in Virginia School Efficiency Review

In an effort to improve its financial and operational efficiency, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is participating in the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget’s School Efficiency Review Program, which begins this month.

The goal of the program is to help school districts become as efficient as possible and, hopefully, recognize savings as future budgets continue to become tighter. A school efficiency review seeks to ensure that non-instructional functions are running efficiently so that as much of the district’s funding as possible goes directly into the classroom. 

The review begins in December with an information request to be followed by site visits in February 2013. The final report will be presented to the School Board in early summer and will be posted on the state website and the School Board auditor website afterwards.

Virginia’s School Efficiency Review Program identifies savings that can be gained in the school division through best practices in administration, human resources, finance, purchasing, educational service delivery costs, special education, facilities, transportation, technology, management, and food service. 

Currently, school divisions that participate in the program are responsible for paying 50 percent of the cost of the review. In preparation for participating in the efficiency review program, the previous FCPS School Board set aside funds for payment of these costs associated with the review program. Gibson Consulting Group, which has been heavily involved in state level operational review programs, was selected to perform the FCPS review. Their work has included operational analysis and efficiency in some of the nation’s largest school systems, including Clark County (Nevada) Public Schools, Los Angeles Unified School District, Hillsborough County (Florida) Public Schools, and Houston Independent School District. 

Since the program was adopted by the state in 2005, 39 reviews have been completed with recommended net savings of over $40 million, averaging more than $1.1 million per study. The program has also experienced a 91 percent implementation rate for recommendations made. While the reports contain recommendations—not mandates—if a school division does not initiate at least 50 percent of the recommendations or experience 50 percent of the budgetary savings, it will be responsible for paying an additional 25 percent of the cost of the review.  

Additional information on the School Efficiency Review Program is located on the Virginia DPB website. A listing of schools reviewed and full text versions of their reports can be found on the Virginia Department of Education’s website.

Note: For more information, contact the School Board Auditor at 571-423-1320.