Can America's public schools be improved? Unquestionably. Even without additional spending, school administrators can take advantage of management strategies that stretch available resources. The key is to view the private sector as a resource, one that can provide an infusion of expertise, accountability, and cost-effectiveness into public education. Consider:
The Baltimore Public Schools, among others, have engaged a private management firm to operate some public schools.
Minnesota and five other states enable high school students to take courses at local colleges – both public and private.
In the past 6 years, the number of schools contracting for their food service has more than doubled; still, only 11 percent of schools contract for food services, compared to over 90 percent of businesses.
Districts in three states have "Satellite School" programs, placing public schools at business worksites. Satellite schools have saved Dade County, Florida over $2 million in reduced transportation and infrastructure costs.
Companies providing foreign language instruction, science programs, and remedial education now work with public schools to broaden course offerings for students.
Ideas dismissed as radical just a few years ago are now helping public school officials better serve their students. In areas as dissimilar as pupil transportation and curriculum design, administrators are using the private sector to promote excellence throughout the learning environment. Many administrators are also making greater use of contracting for support services, allowing them to focus on their core function – education.
This paper presents administrators with an overview of management strategies that can assist them in making the most of available resources. It presents a new look at old ideas – such as contracting for support services – while also documenting recent advances in school management. Increasingly, public school administrators are putting the competitive efficiencies of the market to work providing their students with the best education possible.