In January 2012, Public Works, LLC delivered the results of the Education Efficiency Audit conducted of West Virginia's primary and secondary education system. This audit sought to answer two questions:
To identify ways for the state to accomplish these two things, Public Works and its partner, MGT America, examined a number of items, including state policy and finances, and in many cases compared them with other states. They also conducted an in-depth analysis of spending in three counties — Taylor, Harrison and Wyoming — and one Regional Educational Service Agency — RESA 7 — to identify ways they could save money and serve as examples for other RESAs and counties.
The report contains 56 specific findings and recommendations for lowering educational costs in West Virginia. If all of these findings were implemented, the report suggests an annual savings of approximately $90 million. As we consider financial estimates of Public Works, the Board cautions that these should be viewed more as efficiencies rather than savings. The public education system in West Virginia is in dire need of new investments and repurposing of funds into areas, such as teacher and service personnel pay, technology, personalized learning, and assistance to low-performing schools, much of which was discussed in Part I. Although we will refer to these estimates sometimes as savings, there is great need to reallocate this money so that it may be better applied to meet the challenges and recommendations raised in the report and this vision statement.
In addition to the potential efficiencies identified, the report contains 75 recommendations for education delivery improvements in three broad categories: (1) better connecting the education system to work force and career futures; (2) making West Virginia the leader in remote technology and distance learning; and (3) supporting and improving school building leadership and classroom teaching. Unfortunately, the audit does not attempt to assess any costs associated with these 75 recommendations.
There are several recommendations with which the Board does not agree or to which the Board qualifies its agreement. Many of the recommendations will require legislative action and some would necessitate the expenditure of significant resources. However, the Board does not believe that the report should be viewed primarily as a list of recommendations that produce savings or which attempt to address existing shortcomings in the system. The Board believes the report should be viewed as a starting point for combining efficiencies with improvements to the way education is delivered so more resources can be focused on what must be a central mission of our state's primary and secondary educational system: improving student outcomes through thorough and efficient learning systems.
The West Virginia Board of Education agrees with most of the recommendations of the report and many of the recommendations have already been implemented or addressed by the Board and the WVDE. Other recommendations require significant changes in the way things are currently done, and will require deep commitment and collaboration between the WVBOE and its educational partners.
The WVBOE appreciates the opportunity to respond to each of the recommendations in the "Education Efficiency Audit of West Virginia's Primary and Secondary Schools." We envision great potential for improving West Virginia's education system and by combining viable efficiency measures with improvements in the way education is delivered, we will be able to reallocate resources to the WVBOE's central mission: improving student learning for all children.