Harris School Solutions uncovers ways for school districts to save money through smart budgeting and procurement practices.
Before you make any changes, its best to get your priorities in order. In particular, decide if there is an area that, as a school, you want to protect at all cost. At many schools, for example, that area is the classroom itself.
One thing to keep in mind, however: agreeing not to make cuts to a given area/department does not mean there won’t be any changes at all to that department. It just means that you will work to make sure any changes won’t negatively affect the department.
For example, you might find that switching to a new classroom communication system would help cut down on the cost of sending paper letters home to parents. Teachers would have to make a change (getting used to a new way of doing things), but it would be a positive change rather than a negative one.
2. Include Procurement Personnel in the Budgeting Process
Throughout the entire budgeting process, you need to include all stakeholders. This is especially true when it comes to your Procurement person.
Often, CFOs dictate to the Procurement person — after the budget has already been set — how much money there is to work with for each department. But that puts the purchaser in a tough spot in more ways than one.
First, the purchaser is the one everyone will go to for adjustments to their budget. But since the purchaser had nothing to do with creating the budget, there will be no wiggle room. The Procurement person’s hands will be tied. That can cause resentment, which is never good for any organization.
Second, and more importantly, by including the Procurement person when building the budget, you will get feedback on the intricacies of how the budget will actually need to be carried out. The purchasing supervisor will have helpful insights about what you can get a deal on and what you probably can’t. That will help you to allocate resources in a smarter way.
3. Get Creative with Purchasing
Check to see which items you purchase the most of throughout the year and try to purchase in bulk where you can. Many schools even team up with other school districts in order to increase buying power. The more you buy at one time, the more you save. This can be especially efficient for smaller schools.
4. Which recurring costs can you reduce?
Look for opportunities to cut recurring costs. To do this, you’ll need to take a magnifying glass to the details.
For example: how many labor hours does it take your grounds team to cut the grass each time? Would investing in new equipment like a faster riding mower or better trimmers cut that time down?
Other current recurring costs to consider include:
- Is there a smarter way to heat/cool your buildings?
- Could processes be improved, such as shortening how long you let the buses idle while students are boarding, or finding smarter routes? Some schools are even switching fuel types altogether in favor of more eco-friendly (and cost-effective) solutions.