HD6 - Best Practices for the Support Services of School Divisions

Executive Summary:
House Joint Resolution (HJR) No. 34 from the 2002 General Assembly Session required that the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) “examine the best administrative, fiscal, and service practices in the Commonwealth’s public school divisions.” The mandate for the study required an interim report for the 2003 General Assembly and a final report by the end of November 2003.

Pursuant to the mandate, this study focused on best practices for the non-instructional services provided by school divisions. For study purposes, the concept of “best practices” was defined broadly and inclusively as “work methods, resource allocations, processes, and initiatives to improve a school division’s efficiency and/or effectiveness.”

The interim report for this review focused on identifying a wide range of potential best non-instructional practices that are being used in some school divisions in the Commonwealth. JLARC staff established a location on the JLARC internet site where school division staff could submit practices that have been successful in their divisions. Through this process, over 180 best practice ideas were submitted by the school divisions. A list of descriptive titles for these best practices, with the names of the school divisions submitting them, is provided as an appendix at the back of both the interim report and this final report.

For this final report, JLARC staff examined the provision of support services in more detail, focusing on the following services: administrative services, attendance services, health services, operation and maintenance services, pupil transportation services, and school food services. The study found that in general, school division practices and expenditures for non-instructional support services in Virginia appear to be neither inadequate nor excessive. However, improvements could be made in some areas. For example, evidence from the review indicated that managerial control over staffing levels in some support areas could be tighter in some divisions. A summary listing of the 21 recommendations that resulted from the study is provided at the end of the report summary.