Welcome!

News Feed Item

Urban School Districts Can Adapt to Enrollment Declines and Improve Educational Quality by Taking New Approaches to Cost Management

A New BCG Report Identifies Eight Ways Urban Districts Can Find Fiscally Sustainable Budget Strategies That Have Minimal Impact on the Classroom

BOSTON, MA -- (Marketwire) -- 01/16/13 -- Many of the largest urban school districts in the U.S. have experienced substantial enrollment declines over the past decade and are struggling to reduce costs in proportion to the amount of lost revenue, according to a new report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The report, titled "Adapting to Enrollment Declines in Urban School Systems: Managing Costs While Improving Educational Quality," is being released today.

The report outlines five fundamental challenges that drive districts to employ budget-balancing measures that are unsustainable or that may adversely impact students. The challenges are unrecovered classroom costs, higher fixed school-level costs, sticky central-office costs, a more expensive student mix, and the lack of an advance-planning ethic.

"Across the nation, many urban school districts are facing a new reality," said J. Puckett, a senior partner and coauthor of the report. "They are confronting a declining student population and the resulting budget pressures, except these declines do not automatically trigger a reduction in fixed costs or central-office costs."

The report notes that half of the 100 largest school districts have seen enrollment decrease from 2005 through 2010, with some districts experiencing declines of nearly 33 percent. To balance their budgets, many districts are increasing class sizes without necessarily improving the effectiveness of teachers, laying off teachers, and cutting programs. Other districts are adopting unsustainable stopgap measures, such as drawing down reserves, increasing deferred maintenance, and cutting nonunion positions.

"Overcoming the challenges created by declining enrollment can be enormously difficult, but they can be addressed through a combination of collaborative leadership and new approaches to budget management," said Puckett, who leads BCG's global Education practice.

The report identifies eight actions districts can take to find a fiscally sustainable and educationally sound path:

  • Understand and manage classroom costs; know how classroom resources are allocated by school, grade, and course.
  • Plan in advance and take action early; create and act on a multiyear plan for the district's finances.
  • Retain the best talent; ensure the best teachers remain in the classroom.
  • Close severely underutilized schools, no matter how difficult it may be, to help schools and students gain access to more resources.
  • Enable creative staffing and teaching with technology; employ computer-based scheduling tools and provide online and blended learning opportunities.
  • Shrink fixed costs and convert to variable costs; focus on factors directly related to student achievement.
  • Build a shared-service capability by collaborating with charter and other school operators.
  • Manage charter schools as an investment and share costs fairly.

The responsibility for managing the challenges arising from declining student enrollment is not limited to school administrators. Policymakers can and should play a role. "State legislatures and education departments, employee unions, and local funding bodies also have important roles. These entities often are responsible for, or exert a strong influence over, funding amounts and formulas, class-size regulations and staffing rules, charter school authorization, and pension liabilities," the report states.

The challenges of managing in the current environment are many and sizable. Instead of turning to unsustainable measures or those that adversely impact students, districts can plan for change and look for ways to both manage costs and preserve a higher-quality learning experience for students.

This report is the latest in a series of reports and interviews that BCG has published on education. Earlier this year, BCG released "Achieving More For Less in U.S. Education with a Value-Based Approach"; "Reimagining K-12 Education in the U.S.," a series of interviews with education reformers; "Margaret Spellings on the Challenges and Imperatives of Education," a video interview with a former U.S. Secretary of Education; and "Wendy Kopp on Improving Education Around the World," a video interview with CEO and cofounder of Teach For All.

A copy of the report can be downloaded at www.bcgperspectives.com.

To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or gregoire.eric@bcg.com.

About The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 78 offices in 43 countries. For more information, please visit bcg.com.

About bcgperspectives.com

Bcgperspectives.com is a new website -- available on PC, mobile phone, and iPad -- that features the latest thinking from BCG experts as well as from CEOs, academics, and other leaders. It covers issues at the top of senior management's agenda. It also provides unprecedented access to BCG's extensive archive of thought leadership stretching back almost 50 years to the days of Bruce Henderson, the firm's founder and one of the architects of modern management consulting. All of our content -- including videos, podcasts, commentaries, and reports -- can be accessed via PC, mobile, iPad, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The Boston Consulting Group
Eric Gregoire
Global Media Relations Manager

Tel +1 617 850 3783
Fax +1 617 850 3701
gregoire.eric@bcg.com

More Stories By Marketwired .

Copyright © 2009 Marketwired. All rights reserved. All the news releases provided by Marketwired are copyrighted. Any forms of copying other than an individual user's personal reference without express written permission is prohibited. Further distribution of these materials is strictly forbidden, including but not limited to, posting, emailing, faxing, archiving in a public database, redistributing via a computer network or in a printed form.

Latest Stories
In the enterprise today, connected IoT devices are everywhere – both inside and outside corporate environments. The need to identify, manage, control and secure a quickly growing web of connections and outside devices is making the already challenging task of security even more important, and onerous. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Rich Boyer, CISO and Chief Architect for Security at NTT i3, will discuss new ways of thinking and the approaches needed to address the emerging challenges of securit...
TechTarget storage websites are the best online information resource for news, tips and expert advice for the storage, backup and disaster recovery markets. By creating abundant, high-quality editorial content across more than 140 highly targeted technology-specific websites, TechTarget attracts and nurtures communities of technology buyers researching their companies' information technology needs. By understanding these buyers' content consumption behaviors, TechTarget creates the purchase inte...
"We host and fully manage cloud data services, whether we store, the data, move the data, or run analytics on the data," stated Kamal Shannak, Senior Development Manager, Cloud Data Services, IBM, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
As cloud adoption continues to transform business, today's global enterprises are challenged with managing a growing amount of information living outside of the data center. The rapid adoption of IoT and increasingly mobile workforce are exacerbating the problem. Ensuring secure data sharing and efficient backup poses capacity and bandwidth considerations as well as policy and regulatory compliance issues.
Many private cloud projects were built to deliver self-service access to development and test resources. While those clouds delivered faster access to resources, they lacked visibility, control and security needed for production deployments. In their session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steve Anderson, Product Manager at BMC Software, and Rick Lefort, Principal Technical Marketing Consultant at BMC Software, discussed how a cloud designed for production operations not only helps accelerate developer inno...
Almost two-thirds of companies either have or soon will have IoT as the backbone of their business. Though, IoT is far more complex than most firms expected with a majority of IoT projects having failed. How can you not get trapped in the pitfalls? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, Chief IoTologist at Wipro, will introduce a holistic method of IoTification, which is the process of IoTifying the existing technology portfolios and business models to adopt and leverage IoT. He will delve in...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great dea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
"When you think about the data center today, there's constant evolution, The evolution of the data center and the needs of the consumer of technology change, and they change constantly," stated Matt Kalmenson, VP of Sales, Service and Cloud Providers at Veeam Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Zerto exhibited at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which took place at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, in June 2016. Zerto is committed to keeping enterprise and cloud IT running 24/7 by providing innovative, simple, reliable and scalable business continuity software solutions. Through the Zerto Cloud Continuity Platform™, organizations can seamlessly move and protect virtualized workloads between public, private and hybrid clouds. The company’s flagship product, Zerto Virtual...
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...