Over the last 10 years, the education landscape has changed, and so has RISD. We’ve re-invented our organization to keep pace with rising community expectations, increasing legal accountability and the loss of nearly a quarter of our total operating funds to Robin Hood.
Here’s how we’ve met the challenge:
First we created a vision statement and six goals. Sounds easy, but these goals have become the cornerstone of everything we do.
For each goal, we engaged the entire organization in developing objectives, standards and measurements to quantify progress. We hold Dr. Bukhair accountable to these measures and she, in turn, holds the rest of the organization accountable.
Because of these quantifiable measures, data-driven decision-making permeates all aspects of the system through teachers, principals and staff.
With the reliance upon data, we have far more tools to look for trends and anticipate developments. The reason we haven’t had to resort to extreme measures by cutting programs and charging for activities is because we work with a three-year projection for budget cuts and constantly search out ways to reduce expense without compromising service delivery.
We aligned our curriculum to the test. Ten years ago, what the state told us to teach and what the state tested only matched by about 40 percent. Now the state’s new TEKS curriculum is aligned with the TAKS test.
We emphasize job-embedded staff development as opposed to pullout training. Now we spend more on master teachers and mentors who go into the classroom and model good teaching techniques and strategies.
We hired business professionals for key administrative positions. As logical as it sounds, it was a hard decision to step outside the teacher pay scale when hiring our chief information officer. But that decision has saved us millions in technology expense and improved the quality of all our support systems, data and people.
We have documented processes for every function. One of Dr. Bukhair’s greatest strengths has been to create and honor processes for harvesting stakeholder input for everything from setting the school calendar to the Student Code of Conduct to determining budget cuts.
Just as laws hold teachers, students and administrators accountable for results, we as a board hold ourselves accountable. We are only the third board in the state to complete the 24-point Board Audit, which measures the strength or our procedures and the quality of our deliberations.
Are we perfect? Of course not. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. But in response to market forces, RISD has transformed itself using Total Quality Management business principles.