Many school districts, including Hillsborough County Public Schools of Tampa, Fla., are member districts of the Council of Great City Schools, an initiative dedicated to bringing together “the nation’s largest urban public school systems in a coalition dedicated to the improvement of education for children in the inner cities”, according to the Council’s website (cgcs.org).

James Beekman, general manager of transportation services for Hillsborough County Public Schools, attended the Council’s Chief Operating Officers Conference from April 4 to 7, 2017. In addition to the COOs in attendance, individuals working in transportation, facilities, food services and safety and security were also in attendance.

“All of the operational sides of school districts in those areas come together and we do our own little conferences,” Beekman says.

During the transportation segment, Beekman says one of the biggest developments of the transportation industry is the key performance indicator (KPI) project.

“It allows us to benchmark comparative analysis and it has a performance tool that allows districts to create scenarios,” he says.

Beekman says all of the member school districts provide information through a survey.

“There’s a whole myriad of things that we look at and measure. The goal is to identify who is performing well,” Beekman explains. “We measure accidents per 100,000 miles, preventable and non-preventable crashes, [to name a couple]. For us, it’s a great tool because we can see another district that’s doing really well and basically call them up to ask how they are getting those kinds of results. It’s an opportunity for us to identify best practices and to share those best practices.”

The Council consists of 69 large city school districts, servicing 7.3 million students, according to the website. In order to be eligible for membership, school districts must be located in cities with populations of more than 250,000 and student enrollments of more than 35,000. However, school districts located in the largest city of any state are eligible for membership, regardless of their size.