Goal 2 : Continuous Improvement

  • Teacher on a Tablet with Students

    123 LadderRecognizing no school model is right for every child, BCPS provides a diverse array of schools.

     

    Click the titles below to reveal additional information about our three areas of High-Quality Instruction.

  • Continuous Improvement

    Over the last few years, most districts, including BCPS, have struggled to make sustainable gains in student achievement (high-quality instruction). External and internal factors have prevented successful implementation of key initiatives. Additionally, management by different business units at different times has suffered from the lack of an integrated, consistent strategy.

    In addition to our primary focus on high-quality instruction, continuous improvement requires collaboration and alignment across financial capital (budgets), human capital (people) and operational efficiencies. Below are the objectives and tactics that will enable BCPS to improve the way we manage, organize and align our resources. 

  • Management Process

    Budget

    Historically, during the third and fourth quarters, the finance department runs the annual budgeting process that authorizes following year’s spending on operations, discretionary programs and capital investments. Due to the timing of these activities, this process is typically uninformed by the Strategic Plan. 

    BCPS acknowledges that managing scarce resources is more important than ever for public sector organizations. Performance-based budgeting aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public expenditures by linking the funding of the Strategic Plan to the results it delivers, which involves making systematic use of performance information. Projects and programs initiated from the Strategic Plan will be measured by their outcomes. A three-year performance template will be used to document and monitor the progress of projects and programs toward achieving the goals and priorities of the Strategic Plan.

    People

    Teacher at White Board In many school districts, teacher recruitment occurs during the end of the school year and summer months. Because this is the most competitive time of the year, many of the strongest candidates have already made decisions about the jobs they will pursue. Like businesses in the private sector, proactive school districts start early in the year to court and recruit the strongest candidates. Before the typical recruitment period, BCPS should already have its strongest potential candidates committed to joining our District. 

    For BCPS, recruitment of a highly talented workforce is a continuous process. BCPS recruits instructional and school leadership staff throughout the country, with the majority coming from Florida and the Northeast. In the past, the available pool of instructional talent was diminished because schools did not have authority to hire candidates for specific instructional vacancies until May. In addition, approximately 50 percent of vacancies were not declared until after the start of school because they were on hold until funding allocations were finalized. We need to ensure that all anticipated school leadership vacancies are filled each year before teachers report for the new term. If we want BCPS to have a competitive edge and hire top talent, we must be able to make firm offers to instructional candidates as early as February and ensure anticipated school leadership vacancies are properly forecasted and filled as soon as possible. Human Resources has been collaborating with other departments to remove the barriers, which prevent early hiring.

    It is strategically critical for BCPS to recruit and retain quality staff. Teacher retention is a continuing challenge nationally, as well as for BCPS. Approximately nine percent of District teachers leave each year due to resignation or retirement. 

    National staffing surveys of public school districts show that 40–50 percent of teachers leave within the first five years. Career-committed teachers who stay in the profession are paramount. For BCPS, approximately 42 percent of teachers are retained after five years.

    Research indicates that teacher retention climbs when an effective induction program, high-quality mentors, supportive working conditions and leaders who sustain a culture of success are present. The most recent BCPS teacher exit survey data show the main reason for resigning is “lack of support” (53 percent), followed by “relocation” (32.5 percent) and 
    “salary” (19.5 percent). 

    The Office of School Performance & Accountability (OSPA), the Office of Academics, Talent Acquisition and other departments continue to explore initiatives that may help to increase teacher retention. OSPA and Academics are participating in a three-year research project to examine different approaches to teacher induction. The results will be available at the conclusion of 2016. Talent Acquisition representatives are gathering information via surveys and visits with BCPS educators. This information and exit interview data will be analyzed to determine improvements to retain our high-quality teachers.

    Operational Efficiencies

    To ensure the success of our continuous improvement efforts, we must constantly measure the effectiveness of our business services, operations and processes. We must look for ongoing, incremental improvements that satisfy our customers and stakeholders, while shifting resources into our High-Quality Instruction initiatives.

      Continuous Improvement*
    Baseline 2019 Target
    Percentage of business/support service KPI's in top quartile 26% 40%
    Student-to-computer ratio** 6:1 3.5:1
    Increase 5-year retention 42% Increase by 5%

    * Includes key performance indicators across multiple areas of focus.
       Source: Council of the Great City Schools Benchmarking for K-12 Operations
    ** Computer defined as desktop, tablet or laptops

    2016/17 Tactics

    • Implement a three-year budget performance template to document and monitor project and program progress.
    • Provide ongoing, job-embedded training to all principals in school budget management. 
    • Use data to accurately forecast school staffing levels.
    • Implement an Early Notification Incentive Award Program.
    • Annually track and monitor BCPS across prioritized key performance indicators (KPIs), as compared to other large urban districts.
    • Implement GPS enhancement designed to display bus locations and real time status updates
    • Implement approved Disparity Study recommendations and policy revisions.
    • Implement a learning management system.
    • Partner with the New Teacher Center Corporation in developing and implementing teacher and principal leadership learning programs.

    Transportation

    Student at Bus Since the 2012-15 Strategic Plan launched, the Transportation department has been successful in its transformation initiatives. Significant investments in technologies for daily operations include Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, a Kronos workforce management solution, and EDULOG school bus routing and planning software. These systems allow the management team to use actual data to streamline routes, reduce overtime expenses and identify opportunities to respond to District programs that require transportation. 

    Transportation will continue these initiatives and include a focus on school bus fleet operations in its next three-year Strategic Plan. 

    Procurement & Warehouse Services

    Since the passage of the General Obligation Bond in November 2014, increases in volume and increased public awareness have resulted in aggressive changes to the procurement and warehousing systems, processes and policies to better align with the new direction of the District.

    With a departmental vision to optimize spend, operations compliance and other value contributions in a manner that embraces the strategic goals which supports the educational needs of the District, we have identified a few strategic initiatives to include:

    1. improving tracking and monitoring systems to enhance our ability to provide real-time data;
    2. streamlining processes and structures for effective utilization of limited resources;
    3. implementing the supplier diversity Disparity Study recommendations by prioritizing and implementing both short- and long-term remedies; and
    4. shifting from a decentralized to centralized procurement model.

  • Departments

    Portfolio Services

    We realize no school model is right for every child, so BCPS provides an array of educational options. Opportunities to provide enhanced educational programs are created by aligning resources, creating efficiencies in space allocation and reinvesting in our schools and communities. Our Portfolio Services team links data, needs, expertise and resources to create new school models that offer innovative programs and smaller class sizes. The Portfolio strategy includes:

    • providing ever-evolving options for all families;
    • continued development of innovative programs;
    • strategic realignment of resources to meet student needs;
    • further establishment of strategies for seeking talent;
    • differentiating support to individual schools;
    • optimizing data systems, including academic, enrollment, community and school climate indicators; and
    • further developing extensive public engagement in school redesign and realignment.

    2016/17 Tactics
    • Strategically integrate data to accurately reflect current reality.
    • Establish project management cross-functional accountable work streams/teams.
    • Optimize collaboration with the community, including schools, staff, parents, businesses and elected officials, in the importance of reinvesting in and redesigning our schools.​Students Studying

    Facilities and Construction

    In November 2014, voters approved a General Obligation Bond (GOB) for $800 million that when combined with existing capital resources provides a total of $984 million for improvements to our schools in the categories of Safety, Music & Art, Athletics, Renovation and Technology (SMART).  The $984 Million will address almost one-third of deferred capital-related needs in our schools. 

    Student StudyingSMART includes approximately 1,400 facility-related improvement projects that are scheduled for and remain on target to be substantially complete within seven years (FY 2020-21). The first year of the program generally involved establishing the foundation for a successful program including court validation of the GOB referendum; establishment of a Bond Oversight Committee; approval of the District’s Educational Facilities Plan and sourcing/staffing alignments. 

    Furthermore, during the 2015/16 school year, a new Chief Facilities Officer joined the District and the District secured the services of a new Owner Representative and a Cost and Program Controls consultant.  This hybrid team consisting of District leadership, combined with nationally recognized industry experts, demonstrates our commitment to implementing the SMART program in a manner consistent with the District’s commitment to the public. 

    Since the start of 2016, the team has progressed over 500 facility-related projects into the planning, design and construction phases.

      Continuous Improvement
    Baseline 2019 Target
    Overall percentage of facility-related projects underway in the SMART program* 35% 90%
    Overall percentage of facility-related projects in construction procurement, construction or close-out** 7% 60%
    Decrease in work order completion time*** N/A 10%
    Decrease in routine maintenance cost per work order*** N/A 6%

    * Underway means a facility-related project that is active and in the planning, design or construction phase. This does not include technology or musical instrument projects.
    ** These projects are beyond the planning and design phase and a subset of the total projects that are underway.
    *** Source: Council of the Great City Schools Benchmarking for K-12 Operations.

    2016/17 Tactics

    • Improve Physical Plant Operations (PPO) support to schools and data-driven decision-making by replacing an out-of-date, 30 year old work order system that Information & Technology can no longer support.
    • Close-out legacy projects to better align resources with the successful implementation of the SMART program.
    • Develop and implement a focus on continuous improvement to accelerate high performance and service excellence

    Strategic Initiative Management

    A new support function is being created to enhance Strategic Plan implementation. The role of this centralized strategy management department is to enable central guidance, coordination and tracking, and monitoring of prioritized initiatives to improve execution (2016–17 is the pilot year). This new department will build capabilities that are better aligned with the 2016–19 Strategic Plan.

    Strategic Plan is simply a map, with a starting point (current environmental and internal conditions) and an ending point (BCPS vision and mission). The area in the middle—evaluation and execution of the strategy—is the challenging part. 

    At BCPS, the middle part will be carried out by Strategic Performance Management processes. When effective, they can institutionalize a culture of continuous improvement, effective decision making and disciplined change. 

    Evaluation and execution are the tactical elements of  bottom-up strategic planning process. (See page 12 for inclusive planning approach.) Implementation plans, tactical goals, timelines and objectives are derived from this process. Goals and objectives are established on the basis of measurable, meaningful, and balanced input, based on four perspectives: customer, budget, skills (people) and process.

    Our Strategic Performance Management processes help create our measurement system or scorecard. At BCPS, the scorecard provides a detailed progress report on key initiatives and student achievements. 

      Continuous Improvement
    Baseline 2019 Target
    Percentage of project leads attending formal training N/A 90%
    Number of strategic initiatives formally tracked N/A 10
    Target number of performance management reviews for strategic initiatives N/A 12

    2016/17 Tactics

    • Utilize Strategic Plan Management tools to improve the alignment of activities and establish clear goals and accountability.
    • ​Design and modify performance management and evaluation processes to ensure ongoing guidance and support for strategic initiatives.
    • Ensure ongoing guidance and support from the School Board and senior leadership team.

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