As a school business official, you answer to countless stakeholders. They hold you accountable not just for managing a budget, but also to manage all of the school’s inventory and assets.
Furthermore, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), elementary and secondary education expenditures are expected to increase, reaching a projected $659 billion by 2025. Trying to allocate finances with increasingly limited school funding can feel impossible. But when it’s time to think about ways to save, elementary band and snow days don’t necessarily have to go.
Here are three ways a little bit of planning might be able to help you save in some areas, so that you can spend more on important things, like classroom learning, and yes, snow days.
K-12 school districts spend approximately $8 billion combined on energy costs each year. According to the EPA, $2 billion of that could be saved by implementing energy efficiency strategies.
Not only does an efficient energy plan save money while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but according to studies conducted by the EPA, it’s also been shown to enhance teacher retention, improve student performance, and even reduce the school’s legal liability.
When it comes to programs available to assist your district in the process, agencies and organizations abound. We’ve compiled a few to get you started.
ENERGY STAR provides tools to help create and maintain an energy savings goal, energy management training, financial information, and a communications toolkit. To learn more, view their Building Upgrade Manual for K-12 Schools.
U.S. Department of Energy’s EnergySmart Schools program
The EnergySmart Schools program assists schools seeking to improve energy efficiency, and provides how-to tutorials for planning, financing, and maintaining “green” buildings. For more information about financing, check out this guide.
U.S. Department of Education
The Department of Education supplies Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) to approved districts for the financing of renovation projects, as well as relevant purchases and training. For full details on the program, click here.
The Association of School Business Officials International has compiled a comprehensive list of resources, available here.
CUT THE FINANCIAL FAT FROM YOUR SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM
School food-service directors know that purchasing healthy, nutritious foods for students at the right price point can be tricky. There’s a lot to consider, so we’ve researched some options that can help curb spending.
Careful menu planning
This might seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re purchasing through USDA foods, you know that it can be a gamble. A quick look at last November’s price forecast might tell you that the price of chicken is low, but by the time you’re ready to complete your food product request in April, the cost of chicken may have skyrocketed.
Before your team submits your food product request, encourage your food service director to touch base with your food distributor. Chances are, your distributor already has the answers to all of your burning USDA Distribution Food Program questions.
Additional resources for assistance with menu planning are available through the USDA’s Healthy Meals Resource System.
Approximately 1 billion unopened, untouched food items are wasted in U.S. schools annually. By engaging in sustainable food management activities like charitable donations and composting, schools can play a large role in curtailing food waste.
In addition to the environmental and charitable payoff, these efforts can help your district save money. By identifying ways to reduce food waste, you can reduce costs by purchasing only the food that you will use. Additionally, you may be able to receive lower fees for trash pickup, and can claim tax benefits by donating unused, edible food to charity.
Fortunately, there are government programs available to help you get on track. The EPA’s Healthy Meals Resource System calls on organizations to make improvements to food management processes, and to report results.
Similarly, the USDA Healthy Meals Resource System encourages organizations to improve their approach to sustainable food management, and provides resources about best practices.
MANAGE ASSETS EFFICIENTLY
We know that there are a lot of costs associated with your district’s daily functions. Your school has thousands of assets, from overhead projectors to instructional items like woodshop tools, library materials, and so much more. To keep track, you may be using multiple spreadsheets, databases and files—all in different locations.
As a school business official, you know that rummaging through all of them to collect relevant inventory information when you need it can seem impossible. Although a spreadsheet may seem like a fast, simple solution, it’s likely to cause headaches in the long run.
If your district isn’t already utilizing asset management software, it may be something to consider. The right solution can play a fundamental role in perpetuating accurate, current fixed asset records year after year. There are many benefits of implementing fixed asset management software, but let’s take a closer look at a few.
Improve budget planning
Staying up-to-date on your inventory can help to support informed decisions throughout the budget planning process. A comprehensive solution gives you the ability to quickly view the location of any asset, as well as relevant details including useful life and depreciation. When it comes time to devise a financial plan, access to accurate data can help avoid unnecessary spending by forecasting asset needs and maximizing asset utilization.
Simplify compliant reporting
Asset management software can help you save time when preparing your GASB 34/35 and GAAP compliant reports. Most solutions offer a collection of standard reports, and also offer the ability to customize your own. The ability to create reports through asset management software provides school business officials with reliable data necessary for complying with governance regulations, and passing their next audit.
If you’d like to brush up on your GASB34 knowledge, check out our GASB34 Quick Guide.
Save money by reducing theft and loss
Tracking your district’s assets can save money by helping to discourage theft and misuse due to increased accountability and protection. When an item is lost or stolen, however, it needs to be written off promptly. Keeping record of your current assets is a cost-effective way to prevent items from slipping through the cracks, and helps to keep dreaded ghost assets off your books. Think of it as a complete snapshot of your school’s fixed asset inventory.
AssetWorks has simplified the audit process with comprehensive asset management solutions for tracking assets from acquisition through disposal. Our software can be used as a supplement to an existing solution, or as a comprehensive solution to track assets throughout their lifecycle. By automating manual processes, the Louisiana Property Assistance Agency was able to reduce the time needed to conduct their inventory by 80% (read the case study here).
When you’re juggling all of your school district’s limited finances, you probably wrestle with some complicated matters: scale down the budget for books, or defer purchasing new computer equipment until next year? If school funding is shrinking, difficult choices like these can make it seem impossible to prioritize.
By implementing an energy efficiency plan, reducing food waste, establishing a strong asset management plan, or any combination of these methods, you may be able to reserve greater funds, so that you can invest more time and money on the programs your district values most.
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Access this 100% free on-demand webinar for K12 school districts.
Learn more about the challenges associated with some of the current asset management processes your district may be using, with a big focus on spreadsheets.