Foundation for Child Development, United States
In 2009 Picus and Odden released a FDC report which uses the Evidence-Based model to cost out a comprehensive preschool program for every state in the country. This was the first time such an effort at costing out preschool programs had ever been attempted. Further, the type of comprehensive program provided by the EB model is very close to the kind of programs that several researchers, including pre-school expert Steve Barnett at Rutgers University, has show produces long term benefits over costs by a factor of 7+ to one.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Beginning in summer 2009, Picus Odden and Associates worked closely with the Little Rock, Arkansas school district’s strategic planning committee to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for the school district to allocate educational resources in ways that would facilitate improvements in student learning. The strategic plan, which was accepted by the District’s School Board in mid-2010, now forms the basis of that district’s school improvement efforts. The value of that plan in terms of establishing district spending priorities will be tested as the district faces the potential loss of $38 million in desegregation funding from the state starting in 2011.
In 2009, Picus Odden and Associates worked on a strategic, zero-based budgeting project with the Beaverton, Oregon school district. The purpose of this work was to help the district align its educational resources with strategies that would lead to improved student performance. The challenge facing Beaverton (and all districts in Oregon) was the relatively low per pupil spending for schools in the state combined with continued recession-related fiscal stress that was leading to further service reductions. Our work with the school district included monthly meetings with the district’s administration, financial officers, and Board of Education as well as with the district’s principals. We met on one occasion with the district’s teachers as well. Through this work, we were able to help the district identify its priorities and establish a model that could be used to align personnel assignments with those priorities.
As part of the process, the schools realized a number of ways to reallocate school time to provide additional hours for teacher collaboration, and at the high school level identified the need for common school schedules across the district’s five comprehensive high schools. Actions to implement these findings were being put in place during the 2010-11 school year.
Although a final report was not prepared for this project, it is our understanding that the model we developed for the district’s use has continued to be used in making decisions about how to allocate resources to foster improved student learning.
In 2009, Ohio’s then governor, Ted Strickland, announced that Ohio would shift its school funding system to an Evidence-Based model. The model presented to the Legislature and used as the basis for funding schools in Ohio in 2009-10 closely followed the recommendations of our Evidence-Based model, with some modest but other more major differences.
In 2010, with support from the KnoweldgeWorks Foundation, we worked with a sample of four Ohio school districts to develop a budget simulation based on the Evidence-Based model. This simulation was designed to enable each district to compare, school-by-school, their personnel use with: 1) the personnel recommendations of the general Evidence-Based model (Odden & Picus, 2014); 2) the specific personnel allocations of the Ohio funding model for 2010-11; and 3) any other personnel allocation the district determined would best meet the needs of their student population. This work showed that in all areas of the curriculum and instructional program there were opportunities in virtually all districts for change that would both cost less and impact student performance more. Due to the change in administrations in Ohio following the 2010 elections, it is not clear how the Evidence-Based model will be used to fund Ohio schools in the future.