Streamlining Processes

Streamlining Processes

Reporting

With nearly every update provided by the Michigan Department of Education, schools receive reminders about reporting deadlines as well as notices of procedures or rule changes. It has become common practice for the local public school districts of Berrien County to expect new reporting requirements for each new law or amendment made dealing with education. In fact, for many local districts, hundreds of hours are spent each year writing reports and adhering to new rules regarding those reports.

For those staff members who toil over the details of these requirements, they often comment about the redundancy and lack of impact these reports actually have on classroom instruction, or if they even provide transparency. This was evidenced during a fact finding request made by former State Representative and Budget Director Al Pscholka. He requested that Berrien County schools compile a list of reports they are required to submit and to explain why those reports should be streamlined, edited or eliminated. Legislation was drafted to reduce documentation burdens on schools, however, the bill did not progress.

Auditing

Unfortunately, the redundancy issue continues. Local school districts are now being asked by state agencies to complete redundant audits. Through the auditing process, districts have realized that multiple departments are asking to audit the same information to satisfy their own internal requirements. We believe that there are opportunities to streamline the auditing process, allowing schools and the State of Michigan to eliminate repetitive practices.

Added Cost

Additionally, with most changes come new expenses. When the legislature selects a new process (regarding reporting, curriculum, ranking, testing, etc.), schools must spend money to train staff to comply with the new mandates. Resources are also wasted when shifts are made between old and new systems. While we all wish to incorporate improved processes, schools are often forced to make a change before the current system is fully implemented. Therefore, it is difficult to accurately measure the effectiveness of one process before another system is required of public schools. Not only do we need to educate our own staff how to comply with new procedures, but schools are then expected to explain to community members (as is required by many of the reports) why we are having to change our process. In the end, the focus is not our students or accountability, but rather the act of reporting and being in compliance for the pure exercise of data submission.

Call to Action

  • Consider streamlining state reporting and auditing processes so schools can spend more time focusing on educating students.
  • Encourage MDE to partner with internal auditors to streamline processes so schools are not in constant “audit mode,” often being audited over the same data by different arms of the government.
  • Before making any policy changes that may require reporting, meet with local district leaders to discuss if reporting is already being done or if current practices can be modified to meet information sharing needs.

Did you know?

  • In one calendar year, 150 reports are submitted by local school districts to the state of Michigan. (Source: MASA Superintendent’s Yearly Calendar)
  • There are so many audit requirements for Michigan’s schools, the Michigan Department of Education created the Michigan School Auditing Manual, a 176 page guide to compliance.
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2019 West Corporation. All rights reserved.