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Traverse City Area Public Schools

Michigan

District Information

20
$103 million
9,697
39%
Rural

The Challenge

Declining enrollment, declining revenues, and aging facilities, coupled with the need to make smart investments to reach student achievement goals.

Outcomes

Conducted a rigorous pilot test to select a cost-effective new math curriculum and to make hard decisions to close low enrollment schools. There was a high degree of support for the decisions TCAPS made.
Paul Soma, Superintendent
“The Smarter School Spending process brought a great deal of credibility to our decisions due to its transparency and use of objective data. Perhaps most importantly, it established a framework for future decision-making”
Paul Soma, Superintendent

Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) was facing declining enrollment, declining revenues, and aging facilities. TCAPS realized that it needed to make smart investments to reach its student achievement goals, given the serious financial pressures it faced. TCAPS translated the ideas behind Smarter School Spending into a series of principles that supported better decision making. The principles help lead TCAPS to conduct a year-long, rigorous pilot test to select the most cost-effective new math curriculum and to make hard decisions about whether to close low enrollment schools. In addition to producing higher quality decisions, the principles helped generate a high degree of support for the decisions and for TCAPS’ continued progress on the Smarter School Spending journey.

Highlights

  • TCAPS started by articulating Smarter School Spending as series of principles that helped board and staff to better acclimate to the concepts.
  • TCAPS conducted and academic return on investment study to select a new math curriculum. It was highly successful and created momentum to do more.
  • TCAPS made hard choices about how to reallocate resources to support

Lessons Learned

  • Make a connection between Smarter School Spending and your district’s passion and values.
  • Start by tackling a widely recognized problem.
  • Reduce risk with experiments. Try ideas on a scale where failure is survivable.
  • Tough choices are still necessary, but you will feel better about them.