Creating A Fiscally Responsible School District Is Everyone's Business

school district funds, school district spending, school district finances, school finances

shutterstock_34045903Few school districts have ever struggled with having "too much" money, and budgets are tight most of the time. However, things are particularly bad now. With the coronavirus outbreak continuing to create challenges, schools are having to spend a lot of money on health and safety features - money that probably has to be taken away from other initiatives. This makes it absolutely critical that a district be fiscally responsible, and that is something that every district employee should participate in.

How can schools be more fiscally responsible? Here are some ideas.

Five Critical Suggestions for Creating a Fiscally Responsible School District

1. Explore More Outsourcing Options

While outsourcing isn't a magic bullet, there are numerous situations where outsourcing district services can result in cost savings. Anything from janitorial work to cafeteria supplies and staffing could potentially be outsourced to a group that is able to leverage economies of scale to lower costs. Now is the time to look critically at support services within the school, and see which could be done more affordably.

2. Audit Your State/Federal Grant Program Participation

Is your school getting every dollar it possibly can from state and federal aid programs? Doing a full audit of your books, matched against known sources of funding, could reveal overlooked options for grants, rebates, or discounts. If necessary, invest in better bookkeeping and data-gathering; they'll pay off if they help you qualify for more aid.

3. Can Administrative Staffing Be Downsized?

Chances are, you already have too few teachers who are already overworked - but is the same true for the administrative staff? Many schools have a small army of administrators and assistants. In good times, this isn't a problem, but right now it may be wise to tighten the belt and let go of a few secretaries or similar support staff when they're in non-critical roles. Or, at least, reduce their hours.

4. Investigate Your Benefits Options

Downsizing your health plan during a pandemic is not a good idea - but there could still be better deals out there. This would be an excellent time to make some calls, do some online research, and see if you can find better benefit providers who will be able to provide equivalent coverage at lower costs.

5. Look for Electronic Alternatives To Current Processes

How much time and money does your district spend on paper-based processes? Are there areas where you could switch to paperless/electronic processes instead? Many bureaucratic processes could potentially be automated. Communications are another area where 'going digital' may be a good idea. 

Do you really need to be paying for long-distance service in the age of VOIP? Small technology upgrades could create substantial savings.

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How is your district coping with current budget challenges? Please share your tips in the comments!