PGCPS, board of ed. announce historic partnership to improve public school system
Continuous Business Process Improvement Study expected by start of school year this fall
Providing an opportunity for residents and local affiliates to participate in the Continuous Business Process Improvement Study while seeking community input on how the Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) system can operate more efficiently and effectively, PGCPS and the board of education held a joint education town hall meeting on April 19 at Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro.
The improvement study is an important and unique process that, when completed by the end of this year, will lay the foundation for more high-performing schools. The county is conducting this assessment for the first time in 18 years, reflecting a historic partnership – between the county council, county executive, PGCPS CEO, the county board of education and all stakeholders – to ensure appropriate operations in key areas of PGCPS including human resources, curriculum and instruction, supporting services, business and management services as well as information technology. Such input is critical to ensuring the highest return on investment that citizens consistently make in education in Prince George’s County, according to a joint statement issued April 21 from County Council Chairman Derrick L. Davis and Board of Education Chairman Segun Eubanks.
“We just wanted to make sure that we were going to get the most honest feedback from people that we could. This is such a unique opportunity for us to bring together as many parents and community members as we could,” said Christopher Librizzi, managing director of Parthenon-EY who has worked with some of the largest and most influential school systems in the U.S. and internationally. “A lot of the areas that we are assessing from the standpoint of continuous improvement, they affect students and families just as much and, in some cases, more so than they affect educators in the schools and leaders in the central office. … That’s why it’s so important to hear from people and I expect we’re going to get some perspectives and that we’ll learn some information from families themselves.”
Parthenon-EY is a global consultancy that has served as strategic advisors in the education sector since 1991, completing more than 900 projects across 80 countries. When it comes to K-12 educational systems and schools, the organization has a long track record of working in the public sector by helping clients to design strategies that are based on data and research, to help implement those strategies at scale and to measure impact and return on investment. In addition, Parthenon-EY helps to build the systems and conditions that support student achievement, improve operational efficiency, increase college and workforce readiness and eliminate persistent student achievement gaps, according to Parthenon’s website.
Librizzi – whose company is one of three serving on the project management team – said the purpose of the project is to help the county council, gov- ernment, education board and school system work together in a collaborative way around continuous improvement.
“Obviously, there are always going to be tensions and questions in a system where the county council controls the money and the board [of education] controls the policy and operations,” he said. “I think both parties understand that they want an objective and comprehensive view of the good, the bad and the ugly. When you can work off of a common set of facts, then you have a better basis for moving forward in a collaborative way and making some real progress. And that’s really what the project is about—trying to give people an unharness view of the quality of the business processes, one that’s informed by a bunch of perspectives and then hopefully enables the leaders to make good decisions about where to invest and what to do.”
By drawing on the combined resources of EY, UPD Connsulting and Strategic Solutions Center, the approach for the project is built around tightly integrated project management, project leaders with deep knowledge of best practice and clear findings with emphasis on actionable implementation. About 24 team members from the local Baltimore/ Washington area will be involved with the project’s four workstreams –program and resource, transportation and facilities, businesses management and information technology – from start to finish, according to Librizzi.
Librizzi said the work will require all three organizations to consider multiple perspectives from interviews, focus groups, on-site observations and town halls, plus other types of information such as data quality, data analysis and sampling, process mapping, system/software demo, physical walkthroughs and document reviews.
Ultimately, engaging upfront with key district and county stakeholders is not only critical to aligning expectations and workstreams, but also to overcoming potential challenges and understanding how work is done and where the most pressing needs exist. The project will only be a success if the needs and questions of all stakeholders – internal and external to PGCPS – are addressed, Librizzi said.
“We hope that we will have a report ready around the start of the school year. But if it takes more time than that, we’re not going to let the timeline be an impediment to having a good product at the end,” said Librizzi. “We hope to get a lot out of it and then we can determine if there’s any gaps that we need to fill.”
For Davis, this project is the future of education in Prince George’s County. Educating children to compete in a global economy remains a critical element to making PGCPS ‘great by choice,’ he said.
“A world-class 21st century school system is a shared priority for all of us so we want to work together to create a more high-performing school system,” said Davis.
Henry A. Wise High School Principal Charoscar Coleman said he looks forward to supporting PGCPS’ historic partnership.
“Because I live and serve in my community like many of you, I am deeply invested in the success of our schools, our government and how they can mutually support one another for the benefit of our community,” he said.