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K-12Lead of the Week (2)

Wanted: Turnaround Specialists for Los Angeles Unified Schools

From the December 3 issue of K-12Leads and Youth Service Markets Report.

Announcement: Consulting Services for School Site Improvement Plans, Due December 14 (Nov 29), Los Angeles Unified School District, California

Their Description: The Los Angeles Unified School District seeks proposals from qualified firms to assist from 3 to up to 34 schools in... site improvement plans.... Service requirements under this RFP are divided into three (3) “Phases”....

Phase One (January-March 1, 2008): [F]acilitate the ... site improvement plans.... Contactor shall be available for 4 days of meetings.... with Central Office staff for 1 day orientation.... with school principals.... a progress reporting meeting... the fourth... to present the plan for review and approval. Any additional work to bring the plan to final approval will be at the contractor’s....expense.... Contractor shall provide... a minimum of 5 days on site per school.....

Phase Two (March 1-June 30, 2008): [C]oach... prior to the start of school year 2008-09.... Contractor shall be on-site for a Minimum 2 days per month per school... provide written progress reports to on a monthly basis and one meeting....

Phase Three (July 1, 2008-June 30 2009):... [P]rovide executive coaching to the school principal, and leadership team.... written progress reports... monthly.... [O]n-site for a minimum of 2 days per month... available for a minimum of once a week telephone/email correspondence with principal....

Proposals shall be evaluated in the following order:

Stage I... Review... The firm shall possess a minimum of two years’ experience in... Single Plans for Student Achievement (SPSA)... The Project Manager... shall possess a minimum of two years’ experience... in a lead role.

Stage II Evaluation....
A. Qualifications and Experience of Firm (30 points)
1. [E]xperience... in urban... districts....
2. [C]apacity to... support the... schools....
3.[ S]atisfactory past performance....

B. Qualifications... of Personnel (35 points)...
2. [C]onsultants...education, training and experience....

C. Work Plan (10 points)....

D. Price/Cost (25 points maximum)...
Best value shall be based on price reasonableness considering the level of experience and expertise of the firm and proposed staff, and the firm’s work plan....

(Stage Three) Selection The District reserves the right to select the number of firms that will receive contracts.

My Thoughts: Depending on the definition of “lead role”, and whether “experience” is specific or similar to SPSA, there is a fixed and relatively small number of people with the requisite Project Manager background and level of expertise a provider would rely upon.

This is essentially a fixed price contract: 9 days on-site in Phase One, a 9-day minimum in Phase Two, and something like 24 in Phase Three - plus time for teleconferencing and report writing. When considering additional days, or the use of lower cost consultants, actual requirements for successful urban school turnarounds must be balanced against the likelihood that some competitors will lowball, hoping LAUSD will see the need for additional time or not worrying enough about the reputational impact of failure.

Other things being equal, the RFP favors contractors with local staff. For every day an out-of-state consultant spends on site, another two days of time will be taken preparing, traveling and writing-up.

The prospect of selling additional school improvement products and services argues for thinking about this - and costing it - in comparison with traditional customer acquisition strategies. In a way, RFP winners will be paid to market their other offerings. This may be a way for providers like Plato, Renaissance, Voyager, Scientific Learning etc, to become embedded in school operations.

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