Savings/Efficiences and Cost Report

Section 1 of the audit report is dedicated to savings and efficiencies. It identifies a number of recommendations and findings to which the authors attribute opportunities to save approximately $90 million annually. The WVBOE reviewed the rationale provided by the authors in making their estimates of savings and consider most to be reasonable. It is important to understand, however, that a large portion of the purported savings is beyond the control of the Board and is subject to one or more of the following:

  • The Legislature must amend West Virginia law to address many of the recommendations, including some of those involving the largest amounts of money
  • Some recommendations involve federal money that cannot be reallocated easily to other purposes

As we consider the financial estimates, the WVBOE again cautions that these should be viewed more as efficiencies than savings. There is a great need to reallocate this money, where possible, to be better applied in meeting the challenges raised in the audit.

The major area of exception to the claims of savings in the audit is the fact that the authors did not account for additional or offsetting costs associated with implementing many of the recommendations. It is clear that offsetting the savings suggested in the audit by the full cost of implementing the audit's recommendations that require new spending would yield dollar savings nowhere near the numbers claimed in the audit and seen in the headlines — and might well result in additional costs.

Examples of additional costs associated with some of the recommendations and not taken into account include

  • costs associated with training HVAC technicians across the state;
  • costs associated with converting and integrating the HR systems into ERP;
  • costs associated with funding to enable RESAs to become centers of excellence for teacher quality and professional development;
  • costs to increase Cedar Lakes advertising and promotion efforts.

Section 2 is dedicated to education delivery improvements. It discusses much broader education policy considerations. Examples of costly recommendations in Section 2 include:

  • Establish a School Innovations Fund to encourage the creation of new schools
  • Expand cross counseling efforts in high schools
  • Establish a Teach for America program
  • Require new teachers to have a reduced workload
  • Provide scholarships at state universities for aspiring teachers
  • Support retention pay, such as significant boosts in salary, for tenured teachers
  • Provide compensation for related prior subject-area work experiences
  • Support differential pay
  • Create rural homesteading program for new teachers in rural communities
  • Offer substantial loan forgiveness program for students in shortage areas
  • Provide higher salaries for teachers who choose to be judged on merit
  • Institute a multi-tier licensure system and salaries for principals
  • Offer differential pay for principals
  • Ensure all students and teachers have accessible computers to reach a 1:1 ratio
  • Appropriate significantly more funding to technology-assisted courses
  • Create a dedicated funding stream for WVVS
  • Let students take as many online classes as they want
  • Hire adequate number of technology integration specialists to support teachers
  • Increase training in curricular use of technology

The WVBOE supports the majority of these recommendations, however, it is crucial to acknowledge the real cost associated with implementing them. The Board also continues to stress that any savings resulting from the recommendations of this audit need to be repurposed to address the pressing educational needs of our students as described in the recommendations noted above.

The report states that the purpose and value of the review lies not just in monetary return. The ultimate objective is to improve the education afforded West Virginia's young people, and thereby improve their future professional and personal accomplishments and opportunities. We agree and appreciate having the insight provided in Part 1 of the audit report to identify funding that can be repurposed for implementation of many recommendations listed in Part 2.

The budget for public education in West Virginia is a complex web of formulas, allocations and special line items that challenges even the best accounting minds. Add to that the combination of state, federal and grant funding, and the difficulty of implementing the recommendations is clear. The Board is committed to work with Governor Tomblin, the Legislature and the WVDE to take the actions recommended in the audit that best serve our students and all those who work within the system of public education in West Virginia.