Given the expected budget shortfall during the 2016 legislative session and the fact that Oklahoma schools are likely to face a budget decrease, it is imperative that we do everything in our power to relieve administrative burden on schools and allow school leaders as much freedom as possible to innovate and “do more with less.” With that in mind, I’m proud to be a member of Superintendent Hofmeister’s Red Tape Task Force, and I am hopeful that the task force’s recommendations will lead to a significant decrease in the amount of time spent on administrative reports.
If you’re unfamiliar with the types of reports that schools are required to respond to on an annual basis, a great starting point is reviewing the SDE’s “Accountability at a Glance” document posted on their website. You might expect this report to be a short, easy-to-read document, but if you’ve already clicked on the link above, you know that the “at a glance” document is 33 pages long and includes hundreds of required reports. Even worse, the document isn’t even exhaustive, as schools have additional accreditation reports that aren’t included.
The SDE’s intention in providing the Accountability at a Glance document is to help schools identify and respond to required reports, and we applaud this effort. That being said, we think it is imperative to lighten the administrative burden on schools for two reasons. First–time is money, and these reports take time. If we reduce the burden on schools, we should save them money, and given our state funding levels for public education, every penny counts. Second–and this is perhaps even more important–school leaders need to be focused on what matters most, and I think we can all agree that we should do everything possible to remove their hurdles. School leaders must be able to focus on the academic performance of their students and identify innovative strategies that can increase the effectiveness of educating our future leaders.
The OPSRC is greatly excited about the work of Superintendent Hofmeister’s Red Tape Task Force, and I hope to use this blog over the next few weeks to highlight the potential for reducing administrative reports. I’m a visual learner, so we’re going to lean on graphs and other visualizations to demonstrate the burden we’ve placed on schools. Below are two charts that display the reports currently listed in the Accountability at a Glance document. We’re in the process of surveying our member schools to gauge how much time is spent on each report, and next week, we’ll post some new graphs that quantify the number of hours schools spend on these reports. Looking forward, we’ll update these graphs to reflect the potential for cost savings and reduction in hours spent on reporting based on the recommendations of Superintendent Hofmeister’s task force.