Last month in this column we asked some “pop quiz” questions to education staff and administration. It was intended to be self-graded to continue and perhaps focus more thinking and possibly more conversation on issues that have been raised often in the past, and especially at budget time. It brought up concerns about measuring performance, responsibility for more effective operations, improvement programs underway or under study, organization structure, response to declining enrollment, and most importantly, the role of each individual on the district payroll in effecting change by reducing cost and improving value within the education process.
In a few hundred words it aimed to instill the feeling that each individual must participate in the questions of efficiency, effectiveness, and improvement throughout the year, in addition to their continual search for quality in the end product of our schools. It is not enough to leave the business of how much more we need to execute the mission, or how much improvement we can make by discarding outdated or non-productive programs, for example, to the budget architects and senior managers in their annual exercise. This massive, multi-million-dollar education machinery needs the close attention of every single person who is a part of it. It needs constant examination, continued tuning, and tough questions. For example, why any particular program or offering is actually related to the critical mission statement, or how it is possible to assume that budgets can continue to grow in the face of fiscal realities.