School reviews double
In fiscal 2001, my Texas School Performance Review team completed in-depth, on-site management reviews of 20 Texas school districts--twice as many as the year before. The TSPR team has conducted 33 public school reviews since I took office in January 1999, more than the 30 completed in the previous seven years.
We have been able to accomplish this by applying two of my 10 principles for Texas in the 21st Century: reducing the size of government and improving government performance and accountability. When I took office, I cut my overall agency budget request by more than $2 million but received legislative authority to redirect $1 million from within the agency into TSPR.
That budget move, together with legislation sponsored by State Representative Scott Hochberg adding $900,000 to the TSPR budget, allowed us to increase the number of reviews completed each year to 10 reviews in fiscal 2000 and 20 the next year.
The record reviews completed in 2001 contained 1,257 recommendations with a net of $143.7 million in savings over the next five years. In the past three years, we have conducted 33 school district reviews and also completed management reviews of the El Paso Community College and Texas Southern University. In those 35 reviews we have made 2,682 recommendations with estimated savings of more than $305 million.
But we don't just issue a report and walk away. My TSPR team returns to the school districts a year later to conduct a progress report to see how many recommendations have been implemented and how much money was saved. In 37 progress reports since 1995 more than 90 percent of the recommendations have been implemented for a savings of $109.2 million.
And that applies one of my other 10 principles: as the education watchdog for the people of Texas, my goal is to direct more of every education dollar directly into the classroom.
TSPR is making a difference in improving our schools. By helping school districts better manage their operations, we are making it possible for districts to focus on their primary mission--educating our most precious resource--our children!