Michelle Rhee's IMPACT on the Washington D.C. Public Schools Net Present Value (NPV) / MBA Resources

Introduction to Net Present Value (NPV) - What is Net Present Value (NPV) ? How it impacts financial decisions regarding project management?

NPV solution for Michelle Rhee's IMPACT on the Washington D.C. Public Schools case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Michelle Rhee's IMPACT on the Washington D.C. Public Schools case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Laura Winig, Patricia Garcia-Rios. The Michelle Rhee's IMPACT on the Washington D.C. Public Schools (referred as “Rhee Teachers” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Global Business. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Change management, Decision making, Government, Innovation, Leadership.

The net present value (NPV) of an investment proposal is the present value of the proposal’s net cash flows less the proposal’s initial cash outflow. If a project’s NPV is greater than or equal to zero, the project should be accepted.

NPV = Present Value of Future Cash Flows LESS Project’s Initial Investment

Case Description of Michelle Rhee's IMPACT on the Washington D.C. Public Schools Case Study

This case is accompanied by a Video Short that can be shown in class or included in a digital coursepack. Instructors should consider the timing of making the video available to students, as it may reveal key case details.The case opens in 2007, when the Washington, D.C. public school system was failing. Parents, politicians, labor unions and activists all agreed that reform was necessary due to abysmal student test scores, attendance records and safety concerns. But stakeholders disagreed sharply on how to achieve their shared goal of providing a good education to the city's children. Reformers wanted to close failing schools, parents wanted to choose where their children attended school, and the teachers' union wanted more compensation for teachers. Michelle Rhee, a former teacher and "outsider," was hired by Mayor Adrian Fenty to institute sweeping and speedy reforms. As Chancellor, Rhee came under fire by teachers and their union, parents and the public for her swift move to close underperforming schools and, controversially, to fire teachers rated as "ineffective" by IMPACT, a value-added evaluation system designed to isolate each teacher's unique contribution to their student's educational achievement based on student test scores. The case discusses the steps Rhee took to reform the D.C. public schools and the support and opposition she encountered along the way, culminating with her November 2010 resignation. Case number 1958

Case Authors : Laura Winig, Patricia Garcia-Rios

Topic : Global Business

Related Areas : Change management, Decision making, Government, Innovation, Leadership

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Michelle Rhee's IMPACT on the Washington D.C. Public Schools Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10019340) -10019340 - -
Year 1 3467131 -6552209 3467131 0.9434 3270878
Year 2 3980820 -2571389 7447951 0.89 3542916
Year 3 3954946 1383557 11402897 0.8396 3320649
Year 4 3229039 4612596 14631936 0.7921 2557701
TOTAL 14631936 12692144

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2672804

In isolation the NPV number doesn't mean much but put in right context then it is one of the best method to evaluate project returns. In this article we will cover -

Different methods of capital budgeting

What is NPV & Formula of NPV,
How it is calculated,
How to use NPV number for project evaluation, and
Scenario Planning given risks and management priorities.

Capital Budgeting Approaches

Methods of Capital Budgeting

There are four types of capital budgeting techniques that are widely used in the corporate world –

1. Net Present Value
2. Profitability Index
3. Payback Period
4. Internal Rate of Return

Apart from the Payback period method which is an additive method, rest of the methods are based on Discounted Cash Flow technique. Even though cash flow can be calculated based on the nature of the project, for the simplicity of the article we are assuming that all the expected cash flows are realized at the end of the year.

Discounted Cash Flow approaches provide a more objective basis for evaluating and selecting investment projects. They take into consideration both –

1. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Rhee Teachers have higher preference for cash returns over 4-5 years rather than 10-15 years given the nature of the volatility in the industry.
2. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Rhee Teachers shareholders have preference for diversified projects investment rather than prospective high income from a single capital intensive project.

Formula and Steps to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) of Michelle Rhee's IMPACT on the Washington D.C. Public Schools

NPV = Net Cash In Flowt1 / (1+r)t1 + Net Cash In Flowt2 / (1+r)t2 + … Net Cash In Flowtn / (1+r)tn
Less Net Cash Out Flowt0 / (1+r)t0

Where t = time period, in this case year 1, year 2 and so on.
r = discount rate or return that could be earned using other safe proposition such as fixed deposit or treasury bond rate. Net Cash In Flow – What the firm will get each year.
Net Cash Out Flow – What the firm needs to invest initially in the project.

Step 1 – Understand the nature of the project and calculate cash flow for each year.
Step 2 – Discount those cash flow based on the discount rate.
Step 3 – Add all the discounted cash flow.
Step 4 – Selection of the project

Why Global Business Managers need to know Financial Tools such as Net Present Value (NPV)?

In our daily workplace we often come across people and colleagues who are just focused on their core competency and targets they have to deliver. For example marketing managers at Rhee Teachers often design programs whose objective is to drive brand awareness and customer reach. But how that 30 point increase in brand awareness or 10 point increase in customer touch points will result into shareholders’ value is not specified.

To overcome such scenarios managers at Rhee Teachers needs to not only know the financial aspect of project management but also needs to have tools to integrate them into part of the project development and monitoring plan.

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 15%

After working through various assumptions we reached a conclusion that risk is far higher than 6%. In a reasonably stable industry with weak competition - 15% discount rate can be a good benchmark.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 15 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10019340) -10019340 - -
Year 1 3467131 -6552209 3467131 0.8696 3014897
Year 2 3980820 -2571389 7447951 0.7561 3010072
Year 3 3954946 1383557 11402897 0.6575 2600441
Year 4 3229039 4612596 14631936 0.5718 1846214
TOTAL 10471623

The Net NPV after 4 years is 452283

(10471623 - 10019340 )

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 20%

If the risk component is high in the industry then we should go for a higher hurdle rate / discount rate of 20%.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 20 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10019340) -10019340 - -
Year 1 3467131 -6552209 3467131 0.8333 2889276
Year 2 3980820 -2571389 7447951 0.6944 2764458
Year 3 3954946 1383557 11402897 0.5787 2288742
Year 4 3229039 4612596 14631936 0.4823 1557214
TOTAL 9499690

The Net NPV after 4 years is -519650

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9499690 - 10019340 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Rhee Teachers to discount cash flow at lower discount rates such as 15%.

Acceptance Criteria of a Project based on NPV

Simplest Approach – If the investment project of Rhee Teachers has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Rhee Teachers can ACCEPT the project, otherwise they can reject the project. This means that project will deliver higher returns over the period of time than any alternate investment strategy.

In theory if the required rate of return or discount rate is chosen correctly by finance managers at Rhee Teachers, then the stock price of the Rhee Teachers should change by same amount of the NPV. In real world we know that share price also reflects various other factors that can be related to both macro and micro environment.

In the same vein – accepting the project with zero NPV should result in stagnant share price. Finance managers use discount rates as a measure of risk components in the project execution process.

Sensitivity Analysis

Project selection is often a far more complex decision than just choosing it based on the NPV number. Finance managers at Rhee Teachers should conduct a sensitivity analysis to better understand not only the inherent risk of the projects but also how those risks can be either factored in or mitigated during the project execution. Sensitivity analysis helps in –

What can impact the cash flow of the project.

What will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

What are the uncertainties surrounding the project Initial Cash Outlay (ICO’s). ICO’s often have several different components such as land, machinery, building, and other equipment.

Some of the assumptions while using the Discounted Cash Flow Methods –

Projects are assumed to be Mutually Exclusive – This is seldom the came in modern day giant organizations where projects are often inter-related and rejecting a project solely based on NPV can result in sunk cost from a related project.

Independent projects have independent cash flows – As explained in the marketing project – though the project may look independent but in reality it is not as the brand awareness project can be closely associated with the spending on sales promotions and product specific advertising.

References & Further Readings

Laura Winig, Patricia Garcia-Rios (2018), "Michelle Rhee's IMPACT on the Washington D.C. Public Schools Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.