One of the major figures in the move to establish the use of Key Performance Indicators as a basis for more effective school nutrition program management has been the Council of Great City Schools, a national organization of 66 large city school districts dedicated to promoting the cause of urban schools.
In 2007, CGCS first unveiled the results of its Performance Measurement & Benchmarking Project, designed to identify and quantify 50 key performance indicators that gauge five separate non-instructional areas of school operation, including foodservice (the others are transportation, security/safety, maintenance/operations and procurement).
The goal is to provide urban districts with a way to measure their operational and business functions using benchmarkable city-to-city data, and to identify best practices.
“One of the key things we discovered was that there are no standards in these areas,” says Robert Carlson, CGCS's director of management services. “Some districts do track numbers internally, but it's one year versus another, with no national standards to measure against. It took our KPI project to establish those national standards.”
“The idea is for district executives to have immediate strategic information at their fingertips, and then to be able to connect their district to others that are top performers, to learn about the successful management practices and policies that they implemented,” adds Mike Eugene, currently COO of Orange County (FL) Public Schools. Eugene was closely involved with the development of the project while serving as business manager for the Los Angeles USD between 2002 and 2009. “It really gets us to statistically proven best practices as opposed to what might be termed ‘marketing best practices,’ those that don't necessarily have data to prove that they're real,” he says.
Now in its third year, the project has been enhanced with an automated system that makes data entry easier, along with modeling tools to help directors plot “What If” scenarios to see how potential initiatives might affect different metrics.
For more on the CGCS and a PDF of its latest “Managing for Results” report, go to www.cgcs.org.