Nevada School District Saves Millions Through Process Management


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Nevada School District Saves Millions Through Process Management

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Nevada School District Saves Millions Through Process Management

  1. 1. Making the Case for Quality Nevada School District Saves Millions Through Process Management by Jeanne Chircop In the mid-1990s, administrators in Clark County School District had to expand their educational infrastructure quickly to serve one of America’s fastest-growing cities—Las Vegas, Nevada—and its surrounding suburbs. The district’s already-large enrollment was skyrocketing at a rate of 10,000 to 12,000 new students each year. Rapid expansion was challenging enough, but on top of it school funding had just been cut by tens of millions of dollars. The money had been diverted to build physical infrastructure for the growing region, leaving school administrators to wonder how they would provide facilities, teachers, and services to meet the unprecedented growth. Somehow, they had to figure out how to do more with less. A decade later, those administrators have succeeded not only in accommodating their still-expanding student population, but they’ve also saved a whopping $174 million in cost avoidance and cost savings along the way. Clark County School District (CCSD) is now the largest school district in America to be ISO 9001:2000 certified, and district personnel literally have written the book on process management for schools. Sixth-Largest District At a Glance . . . Clark County School District isn’t just big; it’s huge. Encompassing nearly 8,000 square miles, the district is the sixth largest in the nation. With 317 schools in 2005-06, the district opens an average of • Clark County School 10 to 12 new schools each year and hires approximately 2,000 new teachers annually. District (CCSD) in Las Vegas, Nevada, is the The 291,486 K-12 students currently enrolled in CCSD account for approximately 70 percent of largest school district in Nevada’s entire public school population. Moreover, the district continues to add a minimum of 10,000 America to be ISO new students every year. 9001:2000 certified. • Administrators have succeeded in accommo- Clark County’s operating budget is the 48th largest in the country, with 61 percent devoted to instruction. dating a rapidly expanding The district employs a staff of 34,249, some 16,817 of whom are teachers and 3,243 substitute teachers. student population while More than 1,200 school buses transport the district’s students each day, Food Services serves upward of achieving $174 million in 250,000 meals daily, and the district employs its own police force and construction management crew. cost avoidance and cost savings over 10 years. The district’s quality policy reads: “The Clark County School District is committed to providing quality • Three critical components education and service through continuous improvement of our performance and by meeting the goals of enable the system’s success: the A+ Plan of Access, Accountability, and Achievement.” The A+ Plan is a comprehensive program of training, communication accountability for schools in order to increase student achievement, increase parental involvement, and and respect, and efficiency. recognize schools for the improvement made during the year. The American Society for Quality ■ Page 1 of 4
  2. 2. The Need to Economize groups to obtain certification were the Human Resources Division, Purchasing, Maintenance, the Curriculum and Professional Development Division, and the Board of School Unprecedented growth combined with a shrinking budget Trustees and the Management Process System Office. created tough odds for CCSD in practical terms, but especially so in an era of educational accountability. Administrators Success, One Employee at a Time quickly realized they About the CCSD Student Population would have to create an Thirteen CCSD divisions and departments are now certified in infrastructure for learning ISO 9001:2000, and more than 3,000 employees are trained in • 39.3% White without compromising on the MPS methods. Three critical components enable the system’s • 37% Hispanic instructional quality. That • 14.3% Black success: obviously meant they had • 8.5% Asian/Pacific Islander to find ways to economize • 0.8% American Indian/Alaskan Native • Training on all noninstructional • 0.1% Other backgrounds • Communication and respect expenditures, including • 21% have limited English proficiency • Efficiency administrative costs, • 10.8% have disabilities purchasing, transporta- • 44.4% qualify for free or Training tion, maintenance, food reduced-price meals services, and building The first key to making the CCSD MPS work has been intensive construction. training administered to every participating employee from supervisory to support level. The most fundamental aspect of the By 2000, a new superintendent was in place, and the district’s training is to build awareness that every job contributes to the school board was heavily involved with policy governance. academic achievement of CCSD students. Board members traveled to a policy governance convention in Colorado that year, where they attended a presentation on ISO A maintenance worker, for instance, learns that students learn 9001:2000, an international management standard based on best in clean, well-lit, and maintained environments. If light eight quality principles: bulbs burn out or the air conditioner doesn’t work well on a hot day, students won’t be able to concentrate as well on teachers’ • Customer focus instruction, and achievement will suffer. Food service providers • Leadership discover that it’s not just nutrition that affects learning but also • Involvement of people efficiency in moving through the lunch line: Less time spent • Process approach waiting for food means more time to eat and properly digest it • System approach to management before returning to the classroom. Personnel recruiters learn that • Continual improvement following standard interviewing processes results in better • Factual approach to decision making teachers being hired. • Mutually beneficial supplier relationships As a result of this awareness-building, all CCSD employees now Certification to ISO 9001:2000 means that an independent feel both pride that they are contributing toward students doing authority has assessed and approved an organization’s quality their best and a responsibility to stay focused on how they can management system against the standard. There are approxi- continue to improve the learning environment. In fact, says mately 30 certified school districts nationwide, including Maureen Fox, MPS management representative, one of the districts in Colorado, Nevada, Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma, biggest surprises the district encountered during initial training California, Connecticut, and Tennessee. At least one district in was seeing how excited employees were to integrate the MPS Texas is near certification, and there likely are others scattered elements into their divisions. People have made real changes in across the country. the way they do their jobs, she says, citing the maintenance crew as an example. Understanding that what they do affects the At the Colorado conference, the Clark County board members effectiveness of student learning, they restructured their hours so learned ISO 9001:2000 certification had resulted in efficiency as to interfere with instructional time as little as possible. They improvements to the Jefferson County district in Golden, now complete much of their work early in the morning, after Colorado. Jefferson County was the first large school district in school hours, or even on weekends. the nation to become ISO 9001:2000 certified. The Clark County board members were convinced a similar process management The biggest challenge, Fox said, was finding appropriate training system could help them succeed in their daunting endeavor. materials. Because ISO 9001:2000 is a management standard and most often used in manufacturing or other types of business, Shortly thereafter, Carlos Garcia, Clark County superintendent, existing training materials were not particularly suitable for an traveled to Jefferson County to observe its system in action. educational organization. The district eventually developed its Over the next 18 months, CCSD worked to create the CCSD own participant’s guide—written in concise, jargon-free Management Process System (MPS) and ready the first five of language—that it now shares with others in the education field. its 46 departments for ISO 9001:2000 certification. The first five The American Society for Quality ■ Page 2 of 4
  3. 3. Communication and Respect Continuous Improvement Another challenge Fox says the district confronted early on was The underlying goal of the CCSD MPS program is to work the realization that lack of communication and respect were constantly to identify methods for improving the way the district major stumbling blocks to success. The CCSD team, which by operates. The system: this time had added MPS coordinator Dan Tafoya, addressed this issue by creating standardized processes and forms for training, • Identifies and documents best practices reporting progress, and communicating facts, suggestions, and • Provides for audits and corrective and preventive action complaints. All paperwork, including the participant’s guide, is • Identifies gaps in the system that hinder performance and available online to all employees. produce inconsistent outcomes • Encourages the highest standards for performance, and Once the communication channels were established and in • Produces measurable and improved results consistent use, employees began to witness their ideas turning into action. Morale improved as a result, and staffers felt heard, To ensure continuous high quality, all ISO 9001:2000-certified respected, and hopeful. Fox and Tafoya agree that one of the key divisions are audited every six months by ISO registrars, who strengths supporting the MPS is the staff commitment that has also perform audits of organizations within the military, airline, resulted from seeing evidence of the district’s commitment to and other business sectors. Fox says she knew the CCSD MPS quality and continuous improvement. was successful when she learned the ISO registrars were citing the district’s effort as an example of good practices to their Efficiency business and military clients. The result of improved communication and process creation The CCSD MPS team has worked to build a foundation of through staff input has been greater efficiency. Standardization quality in the school district and to integrate quality standards and streamlining of processes has resulted in tremendous into all district-level services. The next goal, says Fox, is to improvement in both quality of services and cost-effectiveness. embed the concepts at the school level by involving school prin- Not only has the district been able to provide top-notch services cipals and building awareness of the program throughout the to an ever-expanding student body, but, as figure 1 shows, it also community. As a first step, the district has just printed bumper has saved $174 million over 10 years in actual expenditures (cost stickers for placement on all district vehicles and busses to get savings) and cost avoidance. the word out on the streets that CCSD is ISO 9001:2000 certified Figure 1 CCSD Cost Savings and Cost Avoidance Cost Saving/Avoidance Cost Saving/Avoidance Initiative Department Over a 10-Year Period Food Service Placed work order request form online $205,888 Dan McPartlin, director Food Service Placed policy and procedures manual online 62,544 Food Service Initiated remote control of computers, eliminating site visits 512,445 Food Service Implemented computer equipment management procedure 172,548 Inspection Services Placed policy and procedures manual online 39,875 Lisa Conner, director MPS Office Reduced printing cost for course materials and reduced training hours required 240,350 Maureen Fox, management rep Purchasing and Warehousing Reduced hours spent processing paperwork 50,000 Bramby Tollen, director Purchasing and Warehousing Full Option Science System (FOSS) replenishment initiative 5,000,000 Office of the Board of School Trustees Eliminated non-value added steps and improved response time to customer 107,745 Cindy Krohn, executive assistant Office of the Board of School Trustees Implemented a telephone call tracking system resulting in time savings 79,714 Transportation Improved bus type purchases 405,000 Ronald Despenza, director Transportation Relocated route to three new bus yards 168,017,400 $174,893,509 Cost Saving/Avoidance Over a 10-Year Period The American Society for Quality ■ Page 3 of 4
  4. 4. and committed to quality. Ultimately, the CCSD MPS team Article Contributors hopes to engage all levels of service and instruction into striving toward the district’s mission of providing quality education and • Maureen Fox, management representative, CCSD MPS service through continuous improvement. • Dan Tafoya, MPS coordinator About the Author For More Information Jeanne Chircop has been helping organizations share their • For more information on the Clark County School District successes for more than 20 years. She has written about quality Management Process System, visit efforts in the education, manufacturing, and natural resources or call 702-855-5448. industries. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and resides • The CCSD MPS Web site also provides links for learning in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. more about ISO 9001:2000. The American Society for Quality ■ Page 4 of 4