Of the three goal areas identified for the Strategic Plan Community Meetings that started this week, Efficient Operations may not be the area that inspires in you the most passion.
When you say “Teaching and Learning,” you immediately nod your head and think, “That’s what we’re here for, to help our teachers teach and our students learn.”
When you say “Family and Community Engagement,” you immediately nod your head and think, “That’s who we’re serving, the families and community of our students.”
However, when you say “Efficient Operations,” you’re more likely to think of a spreadsheet than a student, at least at first.
But those involved in the operations of Indianapolis Public Schools and those who will work with community stakeholders in that area know different. They see the direct relevance and massive potential this goal area has to impact students and teachers in the district for years to come.
“I think the committee should look at every expense outside the classroom to see if we can find a way to achieve our goals at lower cost,” said Commissioner Sam Odle, a School Board member who will serve on the Efficient Operations committee. “If we can find ways to save money, we can invest those dollars in more innovative programs to attract and retain the best workforce. We can also invest in technology and other programs that will help our students achieve.”

“You can always do better, always get more efficient,” said Deputy Superintendent for Operations Scott Martin, who deals with operational issues every day. He noted several big areas the Efficient Operations committee could examine:

  • Warehousing: More Just in Time (JIT) inventory and drop shipments sent directly to schools could save money in storage or facility costs.
  • Power: Whether you re-lamp a gym with new, efficient fixtures or train staff on better power usage habits, you can start putting money back in the budget for other uses in a short time.
  • Transportation: Noting the size of the transportation budget, Deputy Superintendent Martin said, “Small savings are big dollars in that type of a budget.” Routing differently or reducing routes, buying fuel or buses differently – many small moves could have a large impact. 
“Saving money allows us to use the money we don’t spend on inefficient areas in the classroom, whether it’s in rewarding teachers or buying new curricula or new software,” he said.
He also believes the community perspective is vital. “It’s very necessary to have the community, staff and students be a part of this process,” he said. “The way we perceive it is certainly a lot different than the way our customers do.”
Chief of Financial and Business Services Paul Carpenter-Wilson is also serving on the Efficient Operations committee. He looks forward to a strategic plan that’s a focusing tool for operational decisions. “The strategic plan is where we want to be. Then we can plan how to get there,” he said.
Carpenter-Wilson is excited about community involvement on the committee. In particular, he wants to facilitate community participation by offering his financial expertise and district experience to “help the public narrow down their ideas and focus on the issues they are really after.”

So if you want to work on an area where you have the chance to make a big impact on how resources are allocated to support students, teachers and families in the district, then working on the Efficient Operations goal committee may be for you. Join us. RSVP here for one of the Efficient Operations community meetings February 16 or February 25, 2015. We want you to become a part of the process!