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