Texas School-Management Program Wins National Governance Award
A Texas initiative designed to improve the financial management of schools was selected as one of 10 winners of the prestigious Innovations in American Government awards last week.
The Texas School Performance Review, a program started in February 1991 and run through the state comptroller's office, will receive $100,000 from the Ford Foundation, which sponsors the awards along with Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. The money is intended to be used to educate others about the program.
Auditors for the program have conducted on-site reviews of financial operations in 34 districts throughout Texas, recommending changes that have saved a total of $381 million. Districts that agree to participate in the program open themselves up to a full-scale audit. Program officials interview teachers, parents, and administrators before suggesting ways to cut costs and improve operations.
"When you have financial accountability, you're going to drive up the percentage of the educational dollar that's going into the classroom," Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander said in an interview. "The whole purpose is to maximize the potential of every single Texas child."
A panel of judges made up of public-policy experts and former public officials selected the 10 winners from 25 finalists. The award winners were announced in Washington Oct. 14.
Two other education programs were chosen as finalists: the Santa Fe Indian School in New Mexico and a program for youth offenders run by the California Education Authority. Both programs received $20,000 awards.
The Santa Fe Indian School is a boarding school serving American Indian students in grades 7-12 from throughout the country. The school emphasizes science, mathematics, and technology, while encouraging students to return to their tribes and put their skills to use.
The California Education Authority, a school district for youth offenders, was selected on the basis of a program that requires its charges to obtain a high school diploma, or its equivalent, as a requirement of parole.
The program aims to head off criminal relapses by giving students skills they can use when they are released from custody.
Vol. 19, Issue 8, Page 7