This document addresses an often overlooked but critical and significant area in the public education sector: the provision of business services (i.e., budget management, procurement, strategic planning, and optimization) to New York City (NYC) schools. The current service providers either lack the expertise, are too costly, and/or deliver the business services in a way that does not meet the clients’ needs. That being said, an innovative solution to streamline and strengthen the business processes within the school systems has been identified based on the optimization of the schools financial resources. As a subject matter expert and social entrepreneur focused on public policy for school financial planning I have performed extensive fiscal research and gathered fiscal intelligence on the challenges and opportunities in this space. In my view, there is a significant window of opportunity to modernize and right size the way in which business services are provided to schools in order to maximize value for all parties – particularly the Children of NYC. This paper seeks to create awareness on the sector challenges, emerging solutions and resources to guide you on implementation best practices.
School leaders and their teams are forced to do more with less with respect to carrying out the following business services; budget management, procurement, strategic planning, and optimization to sustain their organizations. Often times these tasks get done by either increasing workload and potentially overwhelming existing personnel, hiring a School Business Manager that they may not be able to utilize fully year around and/or hiring an F-status person (an individual that works a couple of days a week) that may not be on hand when needed most for mission critical decisions. At a most extreme case, certain tasks may not get done at all resulting in a loss of critical financial resources.
Based on my industry experience and expertise I am certain there is a practical and workable solution to this problem. The idea is based on a three-tier pricing system. Enlisting the support of a trusted advisor with subject matter expertise and knowledge to address the school leaders’ concerns and being available when they need him/her most (particularly around deadlines) is a practical way to inject expertise when and where needed most. The crux of my idea is that school leaders will be given the opportunity to decide how much money they are willing to allocate in order to secure the operational assistance needed rather than being required to commit to a predetermined amount to hire a School Business Manager. The remaining funds could be devolved to where they are needed the most—to the children and the classroom. This is also addressing and supporting one of the pillars of the Bloomberg Administration which is to provide school leaders with more control over the school they are responsible for and, more importantly, over their financial resources.
Fundamental questions remain
Why should the schools and their administration continue to be penalized, as well as the system as whole, in terms of hiring a School Business Manager on a full time basis (forcing the taxpayers of the City of New York to make a financial commitment to him/her in term of salary, health benefits, and pension) instead of giving the school leaders the flexibility of buying the level of service they need when they need it. Why is it that the school leaders have not been presented with another viable alternative, perhaps a three-tier- pricing system which required the school leaders to pay only for the services they need rather than committing to buy the entire package (hiring a School Business Manager on a full time basis)? A “just in time” resource support model has the potential of making it more affordable for all parties involved (thereby leveling the playing field). It would free up the school leaders from time-consuming business services tasks and help accrue savings where they are needed the most– the children and the classroom. The insights presented in this paper represent a potential solution to this systemic issue. Many schools are going without the operational help they need not because they want to, but because they do not have the financial resources to secure the professional help they so badly need. The individuals who have diligently assisted the schools so far have done a great job, but more support is needed to further add to the strategic depth and breadth to navigate the many financial and fiscal challenges that the school leaders face on an on-going basis. In my view, it is time to make a change and a difference in the way public schools operate toward the benefits of the schools, the children, the community, and, more importantly, the taxpayers of the City of New York. From my perspective, we should give the school leaders the opportunity to procure the level of service (i.e., Procurement assistance, Budget Management, Strategic Financial Planning, Optimization of financial resources,and Personnel) they need when they need it. Let’s work together to make our schools better, stronger, and greater. Collectively, there is a great deal that can be done to accomplish this objective.
Action Plan – next steps
As a thought leader in the area of public school financial planning, I welcome the opportunity to discuss my business concept and solutions in more detail with the appropriate contacts in order to transform our dialogue and potential venture into a successful and resourceful one for the schools, the children, and the taxpayers of the City of New York. Based upon my market research there is a correlation between the way financial resources are managed and the instructional success of the school. Schools often tend to put their resources where they can have the greatest impact rather than utilizing them loosely and without a goal in mind. This idea has the potential to keep great school leaders in the system longer by potentially alleviating the overwhelming workload with an ever growing list of operations-related priorities they need to manage. Together, we have a great opportunity to unleash that potential by offering operational assistance at a price they can afford while devoting the time that the instructional leaders would have exhausted on operations-related concerns to instructional matters by making the load more manageable and making them feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Let’s work together to make this possibility a reality.
“OpIm is a School Advisory Service Firm that strives to improve instruction, the school environment, and the community-at-large through the optimization of public schools financial resources.”
Please contact us for your complimentary operational and financial assessment.
Luis Taveras,CEO & Founder
Phone number: 646-770-3449; E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org