Innovation while cost cutting

I sat in on a meeting this morning with our local hospital who shared about the ongoing struggles of running a hospital in this day and age. The hospital was noting how they are making less money than ever before while also being held to higher standards than ever before. They are needing to innovate while also cutting costs or increasing revenue. This is felt similar to the conversations in the school district. We have rising costs, and we are needing to get much better at the work we do and the outcomes we are tracking.

This year has brought a number of budget cuts in our district. Looking ahead, the future doesn't look bright fiscally. PERS costs are going to explode out of control over the next 5-10 years. Next year alone, we're looking at PERS increases of over $2 million compared to an operating budget of around $50 million. That's a huge chunk of money for us to find. We're trying and needing to get by with less.

I pulled up some historical data about graduation rates. About a hundred years ago, the graduation rate was around 7%. In 1950 it had risen to about 50%. It peaked in the 70s at 77% and then started declining. We are now back on the rise, and the latest data show that we have an 84% graduation rate. We are doing better than we've ever done before in terms of graduating students. And yet ... the narrative is that schools are failing. We're needing to get better results than we've ever gotten historically.

The need for innovation — agile practices — is clear. To be able to thrive in the coming years while cutting costs and reaching measurable outcomes we've never hit before, we need to get far better at what we do.