Letter: Kaneland should adjust its focus

By on September 23, 2010

On Aug. 5, the Kaneland School District distributed a PDF file of the board review package. Included in the package is the G1 Treasurer’s Report. This report is 35 pages long, and in my view, is completely useless for managing the affairs of a $50 million enterprise.

I suggest making a change in the reporting, focus, and specifically a change in performance standards setting, monitoring and evaluation. My reports would be a single page, 35 lines of historical, seasonal spending, relationships, trends and per-unit accounting.

I have prepared a concept sample of the sort of financial reports the school administrators should be asked to prepare for the board, they are:
1. A report by subject
2. A resource allocation report
3. Some general statistics
4. Performance evaluation criteria for the school and its management

These reports would have annual trend analysis and monthly budget and spending versions as noted.

The School Board should be concerned with:
1. The performance goals and achievement of the school (the majority of its time should be spent setting and monitoring those goals).
2. The setting and evaluation of a general budget and resource allocation as presented here.
3. The general setting of policies for the system.
4. The hiring and compensation, and general performance evaluation, of the senior staff including only the superintendent and the principals.
5. Capital asset decisions and finance.
6. Advising the public as to the system performance.
7. Advising the public as to external elements positively or negatively affecting the system.

The School Board should not concern itself with:
1. Individual hiring decisions of teachers or staff.
2. Individual disciplinary decisions.
3. Individual line item spending decisions.
4. Anything to do with accounts receivable or payable (unless it is material, uncollectible, old, unanticipated, and/or contrary to the policies of the school system).

In summary:
1. Far too little time is spent setting, monitoring and dolling out consequences to senior management of the system’s performance goals.
2. The performance goals are wholly inadequate, monitoring and public reporting are non-existent.
3. The present reporting is incomprehensible, illegible, largely irrelevant and/or useless for the purpose of managing the school enterprise.
4. Material adversarial economic trends are taking place with entirely inadequate attention for corrective action; this would include healthcare and pensions.
5. Material adversarial external influences had taken place in the past, which have had a profound impact on the public welfare, and little to no attention or public explanation to these forces has taken place; this would include the $100-plus million liability created by municipal annexation agreements.

Jeff MacKenzie