What would it take to ensure every dollar spent on education benefits students?

Summary

The Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) was recovering from the losses Hurricanes Maria and Irma caused. DA helped by defining and organizing criteria for federal allocation of support and by identifying opportunities to save resources and distribute them in high-need areas.

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Description

In late 2017, Hurricanes Maria and Irma devastatingly impacted Puerto Rico’s communities, infrastructure, and economy. Most of the island’s education facilities were closed, and thousands of books, computers, and other equipment were lost. 

Restart, a $589M federal program, was established to assist local education agencies with expenses related to elementary and secondary schools’ relaunch in areas where a major disaster or emergency was declared. All 300,000 Puerto Rican students were set to benefit from the program.

Real-world challenges

When it comes to improving outcomes for people on the ground, securing federal or other funding is just the beginning; real impact requires disciplined prioritization to define interventions, track progress against goals, and drive accountability.

Real-world solutions

DA provided support on two fronts:

First, DA helped PRDE allocate Restart funds by prioritizing and defining the purpose of the allocation criteria and assisting with effective program operations. DA set targets for each project’s outcomes, administered one-on-one support to each team, and designed a data and tracking system to evaluate results and drive outcomes.

Second, DA conducted a detailed review to determine where PRDE could save, thereby increasing available funds for schools and students. For example, DA analyzed utilities sectors (water, electricity, and gas), compiled clean and georeferenced databases, and discovered they could save money by discontinuing water and gas in abandoned schools.

Results

PRDE allocated 50% of available funds in less than three months in a transparent process that strategically prioritized benefits for schools and students.     

Our expenditures audit helped PRDE save ~$84M in 2020 and 2021.

These funds were redistributed to improve classrooms and repair schools.

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What would it take to ensure every dollar spent on education benefits students?
What would it take to ensure every dollar spent on education benefits students?

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