Coping with Restructuring

By Sajan George

Public school system restructurings -- incremental or wholesale, academic or financial -- have become familiar occurrences around the country. Some have been prompted by state or mayoral takeovers, like New York City and Washington, D.C., and others are led by school boards.

What most restructured districts have in common is that school officials often lack the depth of understanding they need of their finances and operations. A district could have strong academic leadership and world-class educators and still find its success hindered by the absence of a strong financial and operational foundation to support its mission.

Over time, bureaucracies can grow in a way that clouds the operational picture, even for some healthy school districts. This affects more than the budget; it often leaves principals and teachers feeling frustrated and disconnected from the system’s leadership.

Many school administrators, whether their districts are in crisis or relatively healthy, need to look carefully at their operations with an eye toward getting the most value possible for every dollar spent.  

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