Clarus Group’s services in the field of K-12 education have been extensive and varied. We have worked to help ensure the success of charter schools and school districts and district schools.
Charter Schools. We have evaluated the performance, administration, board governance, and financial condition of dozens of charter schools in Massachusetts, Michigan, and New York. We have developed charter school inspection protocols and report templates for charter school authorizers in the same three states. We have also conducted evaluations for charter school boards of trustees. For example, we provided a charter school with an organizational assessment that included recommendations for reorganization and changes in roles and responsibilities, we reviewed another charter school’s governance and financial soundness, and we evaluated a cyber charter school’s contract for management services.
School districts and district schools. We researched and wrote state-funded evaluation reports on the leadership capacity of two Massachusetts school districts and on the experience of 17 school districts that had been the subject of state accountability reviews. In addition, we have conducted a range of organizational and financial analyses of schools and districts. For example, we reviewed and reported on a regional school district’s financial management and budgeting practices and capacity to sustain improvement. We analyzed the budgeted and actual expenditures of underperforming schools to assist the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in determining the budgets required to operate the schools under state receivership. We also conducted a management review of a public school district relating to allegations of improper fiscal administration and potential fraud.
Example: Under contract to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Clarus Group participated in a district leadership evaluation of the capacity of the Randolph School District leaders to improve student performance. The report, written by Clarus Group, identified impediments to the district’s capacity to invest in and allocate resources effectively to school improvement measures and recommended measures to address these impediments.
Our extensive experience with the detailed and complex construction laws in Massachusetts includes researching and writing evaluation reports on public construction projects, preparing manuals on designing and constructing public facilities, and providing training to public officials, architects, owner’s project managers and others on the public construction laws and best practices. We assisted in the development of a request for proposals and contract for construction management at risk (CM at risk) services for the construction of a new elementary school and briefed a town building committee on the comparative advantages and disadvantages of two project delivery methods: CM at risk and design-bid-build. We also delivered testimony on the CM at risk delivery method to a legislative oversight committee in Rhode Island.
Example: We conducted an extensive study for the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General on the experience of Massachusetts public agencies with the CM at risk delivery method under M.G.L. c. 149A.
Public Procurement and Contracting
The Clarus Group principals have decades of experience evaluating public procurements and contracts and providing procurement and contracting assistance to public agencies. The Boston Public Health Commission contracted with Clarus Group to develop, implement, and train agency staff on cost-effective procurement policies and practices. Clarus Group has assisted several towns with procurements of supplies, services, and construction. We have also advised the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and its Massachusetts Broadband Institute on contracting for the design and construction of broadband in western Massachusetts and the last-mile project. We regularly provide training to public officials and private consultants and contractors doing business with public agencies on the requirements of Massachusetts procurement laws such as M.G.L. c. 30B, M.G.L. c. 149, and M.G.L. c. 149A, in the Massachusetts Public Purchasing Officials program →
Example: Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School contracted with Clarus Group to evaluate the cost, fee structure, and implementation of the school’s contract with a charter management organization. Our report provided a series of recommendations intended to help the school establish a more efficient, cost-effective approach to procuring management services and overseeing contracts for those services.
Clarus Group’s governance work spans several of the other areas listed in this section. We have interviewed and evaluated the effectiveness of numerous charter school boards of trustees in conjunction with our educational evaluation work for charter school authorizers. We have also conducted organizational analyses for charter school boards.
Under contract with a local nonprofit organization, we researched and provided recommendations regarding potential public-private governance models and conflict of interest implications for a nonprofit educational consortium in Massachusetts. We have also provided training to school evaluators on governance principles and the legal obligations of board members.
Clarus Group has developed and delivered training programs for public officials and private sector designers and owner’s project managers on a wide variety of topics, including:
- Best value contracting
- Public construction contracting
- Construction management at risk
- Contract administration
- Massachusetts procurement laws
- Internal controls
- Leading and supervising audits, evaluations, inspections, and reviews
- Government auditing standards
- Fraud awareness and corruption control
- High-quality evidence
- Collecting evidence through interviews
- Effective report writing
We provide training in the Massachusetts Public Purchasing Official program on the Massachusetts procurement laws as well as best value contracting, contract administration, and internal controls. In addition, we provide interactive training to public employees and private consultants responsible for conducting accountability reviews, performance audits, and related oversight work. The training, which is tailored to the needs of each organization, typically includes topics such as high-quality evidence, planning a site visit, collecting evidence through interviews, and effective report writing.
The organizations for which have provided such training have included the staffs of charter school authorizers in Massachusetts and New York, private consultants under contract to conduct charter school renewal inspections, and inspectors general and senior staff from federal, state, and local offices around the country. We have also delivered training in anticorruption practices to an international group of public administrators, educators, journalists, and representatives of Transparency International from the Baltic states.