District Partner 2014-2015
ERS partnered with New Haven Public Schools to perform a Strategic Resource Map, to gain insight into how NHPS uses its resources of people, time, and money, and to look for resources to invest in teacher leadership roles.
With about 21,000 students, New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) is the second largest school district in the state of Connecticut. 77% of its students qualify for free-and-reduced price lunch, and 12% are English Language Learners. Like many urban districts, NHPS would like to improve its student performance – currently, for every 10 kids in middle school, 9 say they want to go to college, 5 go and 2 finish. NHPS oversees a diverse portfolio of schools (about half of which are magnets), and wants to understand how it can use its resources more effectively to raise student achievement across all its schools.
- Strategic Resource Map: Analyzed data (including expenditures, budget, course schedule, payroll, and student achievement), and conducted interviews and school visits, to explore resource use in three areas:
- Funding: Equity, transparency, and flexibility of funding across schools
- School Design: Organization of resources (people, time, and money) at the school-level, and match with individual student need
- Human Capital: Current strategies to attract, retain, leverage, and develop an excellent teaching corps
- Assessments and Exercises: Utilized the ResourceCheck self assessment to identify priority areas for discussion at the start of the project; facilitated a session of School Budget Hold’em at the end of the project to consider key tradeoffs and foster discussion between district leadership and union representatives.
Findings and Outcomes
Our work has shifted NHPS’ understanding of their resources from a world of limits to a world of possibilities. Some selected outcomes of the partnership include:
New Resource Reallocation Opportunities: School Budget Hold’em is one of ERS’ key group exercises, wherein district leaders consider various investments and savings with an eye to student impact and a budget target. During the exercise, district and union leaders identified over $13M potential savings and $7M potential investments to consider. This experience will influence the five year strategic plan that NHPS is now writing.
New Tool to Model Staffing: In our funding analysis, we found that school staffing in NHPS was not necessarily tied to student enrollment. ERS created an Excel model that will allow NHPS to allocate staff to schools based on set ratios tied to enrollment. This should create more equity of resources among its schools.
New Financial Modelling Tool: ERS created an Excel model which allows NHPS to project out enrollment, investments, and expenditures for the next 5 years. The model aligns with district priorities such as improving substitute compensation and increasing social-emotional support staff in schools. NHPS’ leadership team can now identify major resource reallocation opportunities in an ongoing basis to provide higher-need schools the resources they need. Under the leadership of the CFO, this district has begun to improve financial transparency and resolve inequity by allocating additional funds to the 10 neediest schools.
- Key Findings from the Strategic Resource Map:
- School Funding: Our analysis revealed that most of the differences in funding among schools are not intentional or due to any obvious causes – including magnet status or school size. This is something the district intends to look at more closely and develop practices for more equitable funding
- School Design: ERS analysis highlighted that NHPS invests $1600 more per high school student compared to what they spend on K-8 students. (This is based on a “weighted” student measure that takes into account characteristics such as Special Ed and ELL) . This is at least partially due to small class sizes of 17 on average (compared with 21 among similar districts). We also highlighted that the district IS providing more resources to address social-emotional and academic needs in some high schools, and the district is considering how to expand time and attention for all struggling students.
- Human Capital: Like many urban districts, NHPS is challenged to attract and retain highly effective teachers. For example, NHPS struggles to retain its highest-rated early career teachers, and new hires to the district are not always rated highly in effectiveness. Highly rated teachers that do stay in the district are typically not staffed at the neediest schools. NHPS has the opportunity to look at collaborative planning time and differentiating teacher roles (for example, between novices and veteran teachers) as ways to improve on these concerns.
« View All Partners