WEST LAFAYETTE -- The Ridgewood Local School District is one of the most efficient school districts in the state in providing non-instructional services, outpacing other similar districts in central-office administration, school-level administration, and food service costs, Ohio Education Matters announced April 18.
Ridgewood Local was presented with a certificate of achievement as "best-in-class" in providing non-instructional services more efficiently than other similar districts in the state. The certificate was issued by Ohio Education Matters, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks in Cincinnati.
"Ridgewood Local Schools has shown that it can deliver quality services at a lower cost than most other districts in the state," said Andrew Benson, executive director of Ohio Education Matters. "The taxpayers and residents of this community should be proud that their district takes seriously the best use of resources to benefit children."
The rating stems from a report issued by Ohio Education Matters this year as part of its nine-month study of K-12 education called Ohio Smart Schools. That report, titled Benchmarking Ohio's School Districts: Identifying districts that get more for their money in non-instructional spending, identified 135 school districts across Ohio that seem to get more for their money in central-office administration, school-level administration, food service, student transportation, and building maintenance and operations than other similar districts.
"School districts that are not as efficient as these best-in-class districts should look to them to learn how they are doing more with less," said Benson. "By spending less in these non-instructional areas and yet still meeting minimal quality standards, these districts are ensuring that more dollars are getting into its classrooms to help support students."
In its presentation, Ohio Education Matters noted the following:
* In providing central-office administration, Ridgewood Local Schools was the most efficient district among rural districts that have high poverty and low-median income, spending $412.91 per pupil. That compared to similar school districts that spent as much as $1,986 per pupil. The benchmark average for similar districts was $422.04.
* In providing school-level administration, Ridgewood was the most efficient among its peers, spending $428.46 per pupil. That compared to similar school districts that spent as much as $1,445 per pupil. The benchmark average for similar districts was $380.11.
* In providing food service, Ridgewood was the most efficient among its peers, spending $2.08 per meal served. That compared to similar school districts that spent as much as $3.53 per meal. The benchmark average for similar districts was $2.10 per meal.
"We think it is reasonable to assume that if this best-in-class district can achieve these kinds of efficiencies, so can other districts that are similar," said Benson.
Researchers from Ohio Education Matters are spending time with the best-in-class Ohio school districts to learn from them how they achieved their efficiencies and what others may do to emulate those best practices.
"The state should be highlighting these efficient districts and rewarding them by protecting them from deeper cuts in state aid than less efficient districts," Benson said. "That will encourage others to make changes that will make them more efficient in delivering non-instructional services, which frees up more dollars for the classroom."
Across the state, Ohio school districts could save nearly $1.4 billion a year if they were able to emulate the best practices of the most efficient districts in the state -- a savings that approximates the cuts the state is seeking in primary and secondary education in the next biennium.
The benchmarking study grouped Ohio school districts with similar districts and identified those that were spending less but also meeting minimal quality indicators in each service area. The 5 percent lowest spending districts in each category meeting quality levels were designated the best-in-class. A comparison was then made to those districts in each group that spent more than the best-in-class, and the study found that all Ohio school districts could potentially save the following:
* $125.6 million in student transportation
* $138 million in food service
* $240 million school-building level administration
* $248 million in central-office administration
* $617.9 million in building maintenance and operations
Across those non-instructional spending areas, school districts could save $1.370 billion a year, which is a savings of 20 percent across all non-instructional spending in Ohio school districts.
The reports are available at www.ohioeducationmatters.org and www.ohiosmartschools.org.
Ohio Education Matters, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks Foundation, is a statewide, public policy research organization that focuses on connecting the dots between great innovations and those in the community who can make change. As a non-partisan entity, Ohio Education Matters acts as a catalyst of education transformation by conducting research, advocacy, engagement and policy development that inspires others to make the system changes needed today to prepare Ohio's children for the future.
KnowledgeWorks is bringing the future of learning to America's high schools and creating widespread, lasting change in the communities and states we serve. Our portfolio of high school approaches includes New Tech Network high schools, EdWorks high school redesign, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and Early College High Schools.