In Fiscal Year 2012–13, the State spent $12 billion to provide a system of free public education. To ensure these funds are effectively used, the Department of Public Instruction provides administrative services that indirectly support the achievement of student outcomes. The cost to provide these services could be reduced by $19.3 million annually by changing the formula to allocate funds for school bus operations and by reducing textbook warehouse staffing. An additional $6.1 million of non-recurring savings could be realized by reducing the statewide fleet of spare school buses and the inventory of replacement parts. Currently, DPI’s performance management system does not ensure the effectiveness of its administrative support programs. The General Assembly should direct DPI to take specific actions to improve administrative efficiency and require the department to implement an effective performance management system.
- Session Law 2014-100, Public Education Sections 19, 22, and 31 reduces the allotment supporting the purchase of replacement school buses to reflect lower-than-expected bus prices and departmental operational efficiencies, reduces by approximately 1% the total budget for the allotment, which supports the salaries of transportation personnel and the maintenance of yellow school buses, and reduces State General Fund support for DPI by 10%.
Subsequent Agency Actions:
- DPI has begun analyzing school bus parts inventory losses and invoicing LEAs for any discrepancies, which in 2015–16 totaled $373,792. Sale of used buses and trucks generated $1.8 million.
- DPI is performing ongoing certification of school bus inspectors and spot-checking the condition of school buses, inspecting about 10% of each county’s fleet annually.
- DPI has aggressively solicited agencies with space needs. In addition to the space, DPI can extend support services such as receiving, breakdown, packaging, and shipment to meet agency needs. At present, two agencies, the Department of Commerce and the NC National Guard, have expressed interest in warehouse space.
- Plant Operation and School Planning continue to provide valuable support for the LEAs in North Carolina, especially for those in low-wealth areas of the state. Their services enable schools to operate when emergencies occur and function more efficiently and effectively.
- Action was taken on the Workers’ Compensation program. Return-to-work programs were implemented, and the contract was rewritten to separate workers’ compensation administration and medical services.
- The State Board of Education has issued a strategic plan; DPI has devised an Operational Planning Tool; and Valuing Individual Performance (VIP), the North Carolina statewide performance management process, has been implemented.