"If I Had A Million Dollars"


The first acronym I remember learning was: US. I was watching an old Looney Tunes cartoon from the 1940s and saw “US Bonds.” I asked my mom what it meant and she explained it to me. “It’s saves time when communicating,” was the reason she gave me.

We use acronyms all the time: ATM, LTE, GMO. There are many. When I was in college, I used them in my writing as I was a science major (ATP, 2LOT). When I went to graduate school for Special Education, I learned more acronyms: DI, RTI, SPEN. And, when I started teaching, I learned the following:

  • GPA
  • SIS
  • PTA

While not asking for them, I also had students use acronyms on assignments and assessments: IOW, BTW, IDK, and its abridged version, DK.

When I became a principal and later a Director of Student Support at Hebrew College, I learned acronyms on which I had very little background knowledge:

  • CBA
  • ROI
  • CFP
  • F&A

A good part of my role included being responsible for the financial stability of the program. Granted, I was a cog in the oversight mechanism as the buck did not stop with me, but a cog nevertheless. I had to reframe how I looked at faculty, materials, field trips, technology, resources - as costs.

I didn’t like this framing, especially seeing individuals, who were my colleagues, as commodities that could grow or hinder the institution. And yet, it was part of my job. Faculty would come to me with ideas on how to better their classrooms or practices. I had to ask the practical question of, “How much does it cost?” So many times, I felt like the Grim Reaper responding with, “I am sorry, but we can’t afford that” or worse, “I am sorry, but I have to cut your position.”

He who loses money, loses much; He who loses a friend, loses much more; He who loses faith, loses all. --Eleanor Roosevelt

It was never easy having to quantify everything, including human beings.

However, I did learn a lot about balancing budgets and to make sure that we only spent what we had. I also learned how to be creative and stretch every dollar.

I learned the value of a faculty member’s time.

I don’t mean that a teacher’s time is not valuable. It is invaluable. What I mean is, the value of the time. The monetary value.

As a principal in K12 or as a Department Chair or Dean in Higher Ed, it is imperative to know what faculties’ salaries are so that we are attracting both the best and right talent for the institution. It also helps us to qualify the reason for offering a salary. I’m going to focus on the Higher Ed World so the statistics will be reflected of that level of education.

Everyday is a bank account, and time is our currency. No one is rich, no one is poor, we've got 24 hours each. --Christopher Rice

According to the US Department of Labor in 2017, the average full time Higher Education salary was $74,000 (adjusted for inflation, that brings it up to $77,000). The primary expense of any educational program (department, school, or institution) is salary, ranging up 54% to as much as 90%. Focusing just on faculty salaries, the percentage is around 30%.

To put numbers with those statistics, the 2015-2016 academic year resulted in $121,959,180,000 of expenditures resulting in salary and wages for all public and private/non-profit higher institutions in the US alone, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NECS).  

What about revenue? Students are paying a pretty penny to attend. According to 2016 NECS figures, tuition and fees paid to all institutions (public and private non-profit) equalled: $148,709,130,000

That would leave roughly $26,749,950,000 for all other expenditures. That seems like a lot, but according to the data, non-instructional costs are close to $370,000,000,000 That means universities need to raise the additional funds.

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. --Benjamin Franklin

When we are talking billions of dollars, it can be hard to wrap one’s head around it. So, I am going to use two institutions: Brandeis University (private non profit) and Bridgewater State University (public university) as examples. They also  happen to be my almae matres.

Let’s take a look at the numbers of each institution. Note, I could only find information for certain years, so these numbers do not reflect the 2018-2019 fiscal budgets.

As the data indicates, the two institutions are in line with the national data with regard to salary expenditures.

Now, what’s a major focus of any administrator? Keeping expenditures down while not sacrificing the program’s quality. What are ways that this can be done? One is by looking at the value of the faculty’s time.

In a previous article of mine [insert link to article], which focused on the value of time through faculties' eyes, I wrote how the average higher ed educator spends 7 hours a week on grading alone. I also discussed discoveries that helped me work more efficiently (and healthily). When I was a principal and as Director of Student Support, I would both model and coach faculty on these discoveries. Yet I couldn’t dictate that they had to sleep more efficiently or go to the gym.

I had to find ways to make their jobs easier and more efficient. From a leadership frame, it helps to build morale, build confidence, and empowerment.

From a financial frame, having the faculty work more efficiently allows them to focus on other areas that can benefit the institution. In higher ed, those foci are: research, grant writing, speaking engagements, etc.  All those areas have direct and indirect financial benefits: e.g., receiving grant money offsets operational costs to continue the research; published works and speaking engagements provide public relations and increased awareness.

A low hanging fruit to pick would be reducing the amount of time faculty spend grading. Let’s face it; it’s an onerous task that has a high ROI (Return On Investment). Authentic meaningful individualized feedback helps students grow their skills and reduces attrition. Providing such feedback takes time.

Kaizena can help reduce that time by 75% without sacrificing the quality.

How’s that for an ROI?

As I wrote in the previous article:

Kaizena’s voice comments can actually cut your grading time by 75%. By recording vs. typing your comments, you are able to be 300% more efficient. And the bonuses are: (1) students can hear the tone, (2) process the information more effectively, and (3) students are more likely to respond or reply to voice feedback than typed feedback.

Now, this article’s point is on the CBA, or Cost Benefit Analysis. If the average grading time has been reduced by 75%, that frees up approximately 5.25 hours/week or just under 74 hours/year.

If the average full time salary is $77,000 which breaks down to $37/hour (assuming a 40 hour work week and 12 month position), then using Kaizena means a potential savings of $2739.00 per faculty member per year.

Let’s take that number and see the financial impact.

Using my almae matres again as examples and assuming that the rate per hour ($37) is standard for all teaching positions - full and part time), we can see the cost savings:

A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore. --Yogi Berra

Now, let's be 1000% clear. Neither Kaizena nor I am advocating that salaries or positions be cut. Please do not come marching up the castle walkway with pitchforks.

Rather, from a CBA lens, 1 million dollars worth of time saved is huge. It can mean that a faculty member can do additional meaningful work with those hours available. Five hours a week can be devoted to coaching programs, professional development, collaborative projects, research, grant writing… you name it. A million dollars annually repurposed has a huge potential ROI for growth of any institution. By the way, just for fun, if every faculty member in the US Colleges and Universities used Kaizena, it would result in a potential annual savings of  $1,108,500,000.

Beyond the financial CBA and ROI, making deposits in the Relationship Bank is paramount. As someone who has been on both sides of the desk - as a faculty member and as an administrator - the most important factor is the relationship. Faculty members need to feel and be supported. Administrators need to feel and be in a position that they can enact the vision of the program with the help of the faculty. Kaizena can: (1) help by providing faculty members a more effective and efficient way of grading and delivering feedback and (2) help administrators assign additional meaningful tasks without adding costs.

That revelation deserves an acronym: Kaizena FTW (For The Win).

It is time for us to stand and cheer for the doer, the achiever, the one who recognizes the challenge and does something about it. --Vince Lombardi

Ariel Margolis
Ariel has designed innovative instructional and e-learning curricula for more than twenty years. He is Director of Student Support Services and Adjunct Lecturer in special education at Hebrew College.
More teacher Examples

Peer Learning is a teaching strategy employed to help students grow through collaborating and mutual exchange of feedback and ideas. Kaizena allows for peer learning to take place asynchronously, thus flattening the walls of the classroom.

Flipped Classroom a la Kaizena-Mode

Flipped Classroom is a tried and true method of good teaching. Come learn the secret recipe that can help you flip as easy as making instant oatmeal by using the Kaizena add-on.

Response To Intervention (RTI)

Response To Intervention (RTI) is a three-tiered approach to meeting students need right from the start. Kaizena's feedback teachers allow teachers to perform RTI with ease.

I see and I remeMber. I do and I understand.

Try Kaizena for Yourself

Review up to 75% faster than typing with Voice Comments. Embed explainer videos in three clicks. Track Skills and we'll auto-complete your rubric. Welcome to the future of feedback.