Operations review moves forward

As you might remember from the commission’s final meeting, a Columbus Education Commission working group is convening to review and complete an operations review of the non-academic expenses of Columbus City Schools. Below you can read Director Fingerhut’s memo to members of the Columbus Education Commission and download copies of the overview of the Commission’s work to date as well as the supporting facts gathered by this early draft research.

To: Members of the Columbus Education Commission

From: Eric D. Fingerhut, Director

Date: June 10, 2013

Re: Operations Review

At the last meeting of the Columbus Education Commission, Commission member Mary Jo Hudson reported on the progress of the operations review of the non-educational work of the Columbus City Schools requested by the commission. Her report was also summarized on page 95 of the commission’s final report.

In brief, we reported that the commission had received sufficient information from working with the district to believe that, while progress had been made in the district in recent years on operational efficiencies, there was more to be done, and that a comparison of non-educational expenditures in the Columbus City School Districts against comparable districts suggested the possibility of significant savings. However, it was not possible for us to assess the specific nature of these savings in time to meet the commission’s deadline, nor would we have time to learn what unique local factors might be affecting the achievement of the efficiencies, such as regulations, contracts or district demographics. As a result, we created a working group of commission members charged with preparing a more detailed report for Mayor Coleman and Council President Ginther by June 30, 2013. That working group, also led by Mary Jo Hudson, is now beginning its work.

The purpose of this memo is to inform you that the Columbus Dispatch filed a public records request with the Columbus School District seeking information related to the operations review and the district has today provided the Dispatch with a copy of a draft PowerPoint that was created during the course of their work on this project. I expect that this draft document will be the subject of media reports. Consistent with the Commission’s approach to transparency, here is the overview of the Commission’s work on the operations review to date as well as the supporting facts gathered by this early draft research. This overview and the supporting facts are a more up-to-date and accurate reflection of information gathered so far and will serve as the basis for the going forward conversations of the working group. Should you receive media inquiries on this topic, you should feel free to refer calls to me. Should you wish to see the draft document that was released to the press, please let me or Matt Smydo know.

It is important to reiterate once again that neither the commission during its lifetime, nor the working group that has carried on the work, has yet had the opportunity to fully reflect on the implications of the work, answer further questions regarding the issues identified, nor develop recommendations for the path forward We are in the process of doing so, and will certainly share them with you as soon as they become available. As was our practice with the commission meetings, the working group meetings will be open to the public and any materials presented will be posted on the website.

Thank you again for your significant contributions to the future of our community. Please let me know if I can answer any questions.

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