Throughout his career, Paul Kadri has studied money planning and finance as a way to enlighten his views both personally and professionally. One of his favorite concepts in this field of study is “return on investment,” often referred to by industry insiders as ROI. The term ROI refers to what an individual or group gets back from what is invested. Unfortunately, Paul Kadri has encountered many people who believe that spending a dollar means securing a product or service in that same amount. Those people, he says, could not be more wrong.
The cost of a certain product or service is often the focus, says Paul Kadri. He suggests that what matters is not the cost, but the potential benefits derived from attaining the particular item. In his experience, Paul Kadri has witnessed a number of teachers and administrators who have a unique vision for their classrooms only to settle for less-than-desirable amenities. Paul Kadri acknowledges that his area’s school board failed several times to install interactive technology into the classroom due to concerns about budgets and training issues.
Before making the call that will make him hero or scourge for 5,000 students, superintendents like Paul Kadri are awake at 4 a.m. to make a much dreaded decision.
Q: As superintendent you dread snow. Why?
Paul Kadri: As superintendent I make a couple hundred decisions a day and most of them fly under the radar. But if I make a decision—good, bad or indifferent—on the snow, people take note.
Paul Kadri received his bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from the Wharton School. He has taken numerous Doctoral credits in Education from the University of Pennsylvania and Delaware. Having strong financial skills has always been an asset for Paul Kadri in order to offer expertise to organizations in getting the best return on investment.
Q: You performed a three-year comparable analysis of school districts in Connecticut to see how successful you were at the plan you laid out for the district three years ago. Can you describe what you studied?
Paul Kadri: I am constantly telling people that I plan for success years ahead of time. I envision an education plan that would help all students in public education achieve success within a cost structure that taxpayers would be able to maintain. Three years ago we started to control costs without lowering education standards. We ended with three years and no increase in the budget, but with significant student academic growth. I looked at the same data for districts in Connecticut.
“Sometimes I read the paper, especially during a recession, and read that CEOs look to lay off people in order to give the visual impression to analysts that they are cutting costs. I shake my head in disbelief because this is a short-term fix that generates a long-term problem,” says Paul Kadri.
In his entire professional career Mr. Paul Kadri has never laid off anyone. He’s accomplished this not because of luck or unrestricted budgets, but because it is one of his highest priorities as he plans for the future. Even in situations where he does consolidations, he has tied it with early-retirement incentives so that while the number of employees may go down nobody became unemployed. This innovative and efficient method of staff reduction has made Paul Kadri a very desirable professional to work under.
Over the past 10 years, several substantial measures have been implemented to improve public education. The most recent reform initiative is focused on “closing the achievement gap,” which targets improving the achievement of low-performing students. Certainly this is important, says Paul Kadri, an experienced superintendent, but if not done correctly, the approach to achieving it can end up causing other significant problems.
Q: What does education reform mean?
Paul Kadri: Education reform is primarily about finding ways to improve the public education system so that it continues to live up to the promise of providing every child an opportunity to reach their full potential.
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