Columbus-area school district eyeing state funding for op-ex rollout

A Columbus-area school district is turning to operational excellence to help drive efficiencies and funnel more dollars into the classroom, armed with a pledge of partnership with Fisher College of Business and hopes of help from a competitive state funding program.

Dublin City Schools recently applied for $555,000 through Ohio’s Straight A Fund, which encourages districts around the state to find collaborative and innovative ways to reduce costs and better serve students. Dublin’s plan, spearheaded by Superintendent Todd Hoadley, is a structured lean/Six Sigma implementation district-wide that looks to cut costs in utilities, transportation, and other areas.

That’s where Fisher comes in. Through the funding proposal, several district staffers would enter Fisher’s Master of Business Operational Excellence program, a one-year degree track designed to create Black Belt-level practitioners with lean leadership skills. Hoadley himself is a graduate of MBOE, whose alumni routinely execute highly successful process improvement projects at their companies and often see promotions.

MBOE, though, is only one part of the Dublin plan, which looks ultimately to train more than 200 district employees – roughly 10 percent of its work force – in operational excellence concepts. This all-in effort, which also has Center for Operational Excellence member Cardinal Health on deck as a partner in training and education, looks to save more than $2 million through new efficiencies in utilities, transportation and other costs, according to a recent Columbus Dispatch article. The initiative is designed not only to be self-sustaining in the future after the initial funding round, but allocate more funding toward students.

“If those operations are not lean, that’s pulling money out of the classroom and away from kids," Hoadley told the Dispatch.

While grant funding decisions are yet to be announced, Dublin already is at work, collaborating with Fisher students to drive results.  A recent Dublin Villager article highlighted a study conducted by Fisher students since the beginning of the year and just unveiled to the school board. Fisher students in this project looked to speed up the rate at which maintenance problems around the district are fixed, a turnaround that sometimes exceeded a month, according to the article. Students’ recommendations incorporated milk run and 5S concepts, among others, to reduce the waste of maintenance workers looking for parts.

Dublin was one of 662 schools and other organization looking for a piece of the $150 million available through the latest funding round. The district's proposal cleared an initial round of eliminations in late May and is headed to a more in-depth review process. Winners will be announced in late June.


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