Afton supports a Texas district in sustainably implementing district-wide STEM initiative.
Our client, a state-wide philanthropic organization, supported a 7,000+ student district in central Texas which envisioned an all-STEM district, enhanced with project-based and personalized learning environments. The District’s bold vision gained the support of grant funding from Texas Instruments, among other philanthropic organizations in the State. This funding enabled the District to pilot many strategic initiatives aligned with their vision, but faced the challenge of sustaining this work after grant funding ended. Afton supported the District in reaching the all-STEM vision by creating a long-term (five-year), dynamic financial model to analyze the impact of various potential sources and uses of funds for STEM initiatives.
To complete this work, Afton worked with academic, financial, and operational leadership of the district to quantify the cost of all strategic initiatives over the next five years. When the cost was too great to contain in the general budget, Afton assisted the District in prioritizing strategic initiatives and identified opportunities for the District to consider reallocating resources from existing uses. This was done by thoroughly assessing how resources were currently being used within and amongst schools, and benchmarking versus peer districts. In total, Afton identified $2.8 million in reallocation opportunities. Afton’s work was housed in a long-range, flexible financial model that enables the district to continue its sustainability planning over time, and ensures annual budgets align with long-term plans.
Long-range planning is critical for sustainability. By understanding the long-term costs and implications of initiatives, districts can make smart resource allocation decisions and ensure annual funds are being used as best as possible toward long-term goals.
Finance must be a strategic partner from the beginning. We often see great initiatives end when grant funding dries up. Involving your finance team early and often can eliminate surprises and scrambling for funding, helping to ensure your initiatives can be sustained in the long-term.
Consider trade-off decisions to make current resources more efficient. We frequently see new initiatives be added on top of everything else already being done at schools, and likewise, costs are stacked on top of current budgets. This leads to a situation where additional funding is needed to afford any new initiative. Instead, we recommend schools and districts reassess how resources are currently being used, and identify opportunities to rework budgets to cover new priorities.