Turnarounds in a Downturn

Change or improvement of any kind takes money—that we all know.  The big question is, then, how can we make the biggest change with the smallest dollar?

There’s a lot of chatter right now about funding.  The CEP released a report on how states used ARRA funding in education (a one-time funding shot) and Alyson Klein explained the impact of a new bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee panel, which sets education funding. This bill could end many of the Obama Administration’s education funding programs, such as SIG, Race to the Top, and i3 (all of which the Senate bill continued to fund).

So, with some of school turnaround funding sources facing the possibility of fading away, what can we do to see that turnaround schools are getting the biggest bang for their buck? Earlier this spring, Green Dot’s Marco Petruzzi guest blogged about his charter’s return on investment, painting a picture of a school with limited public dollars that successfully lowered its dropout rate and raised the graduation rate. Petruzzi encouraged readers to contact him with questions about his model. Two of our recommendations:

1. Use homegrown Lead Partners. Organizations will likely need to build capacity to become Lead Partners (which our Lead Partner Playbook explains). Using “homegrown” Lead Partners can save a lot, as the organization will already be on the ground serving the community in some way, and;

2. Use community clusters.  Not only is this more scalable and sustainable than a district of standalone schools, it will allow for better communication and resource-sharing.

How has your district used smart spending?