How Schools Can Save Money: 8 Simple Ways

Colby Ezell / Cost Reduction / September 26, 2022

School administrators often get into their line of work to change children’s lives and positively impact their communities. Unfortunately, they quickly realize that while costs continue to rise, school funding does not seem to keep up. They find themselves between a rock and a hard place – how do they meet all the needs of their students without their school going into debt?

The costs are seemingly endless — providing internet, upgrading technology, purchasing supplies, feeding the students, getting them to and from school, keeping up with maintenance — and we’ve barely scratched the surface.

The key to cost reduction in schools is finding areas where money can be saved but without affecting the education students receive — a task much easier said than done. If you are looking for creative solutions to school budget cuts, check out our list of eight simple ways for schools to save money (without affecting students’ education).

8 Ways Schools Can Save Money

1. Outsource Certain Responsibilities

Certain school functions are non-educational and can be run at a lower cost by a third-party company. Privatizing these functions is one of the best ways for schools to save money. Not only can privatization cut expenses, but it can also improve efficiency in certain departments that may not be running as effectively as possible.

Some departments that may benefit from being outsourced include:

  • Food Services
  • Security
  • Transportation
  • Maintenance
  • Information Technology
  • Landscaping

Many support service firms will even hire existing staff, so schools can save money without their dedicated team losing their jobs. In the long run, schools save money on recruiting, interviewing, and training staff. Plus, schools can implement vendor payment solutions that maximize monthly rebates through virtual card payments — a win-win.

2. Cut Printing Costs

Between the high printing costs and rapid changes caused by the pandemic, many schools opt for less paper use when possible. However, there are plenty of reasons why schools can’t go 100 percent paperless. For example, do all students have access to devices at home and in the classroom? Can young students learn as well without physically writing things down? Will cognitive mapping develop as efficiently through technology?

One of the best ways schools can save money is to go paperless where they can by scanning school records and moving admin paperwork to online databases, while simultaneously managing print costs for mandatory printing. A managed print or copier lease audit can help schools save money on both aspects by helping them find the most cost-effective and technologically advanced machines that do both.

3. Introduce Environmentally Friendly Waste Solutions

Money-saving ideas for public schools that also benefit the planet are hard to come by, but better waste management can do just that. Many school leaders realize the importance of implementing recycling programs in their schools but worry that this will increase waste management costs. However, high-performing programs can often actually save waste hauling expenses. By implementing eco-friendly initiatives like recycling, reducing, and reusing, schools can not only cut costs but also instill positive values in students.

Ideas to minimize waste include:

  • Starting a composting program.
  • Reusing paper and other items for school craft projects.
  • Making recycling easy and accessible.
  • Avoiding plastic food packaging.

Waste haulers can be expensive, and recycling programs are constantly changing, so a waste management audit can help schools save money on services and pinpoint advantageous recycling options.

4. Modernize Billing and Payroll

One area where schools should be completely paperless is the finance department. Moving accounts payable and payroll to a fully digital system is another way that schools can save money. For starters, schools can save money by not printing and mailing checks to staff members. Requiring all employees to accept direct deposits will cut unnecessary fees while limiting the necessary amount of staff to perform these tasks.

Automating accounts payable will also cut down on costs by avoiding paper checks. As we mentioned above, schools can make payments through virtual cards, which can earn rebates and cut down on fraud risks. Having accounts payable fully automated can also guarantee schools don’t incur unnecessary late payment fees.

5. Introduce Tech Alternatives

Schools can move specific systems to fully automatic processes through technology, saving money by limiting the need for administrative employees. For example:

  • Sending notices to parents via SMS or email.
  • Reporting grades and homework through online management systems.
  • Listing school announcements on virtual bulletin boards.
  • Hosting parent-teacher conferences via video conferencing software.

These systems are implemented through telecom services such as internet, wireless, or telephone. Telecommunications is one of the sectors where businesses can potentially cut costs, but how can schools save money too?

With a telecom audit, schools can comb through invoices and negotiate better deals on contracts, lowering expenses by 15-30 percent. When possible, the overall reduction of manual processes can lower costs further by allowing IT teams to manage systems remotely.

6. Minimize Energy Bills

US school districts spend billions annually on energy. Where there’s big spending, there are ample opportunities for cost reduction. Step one is to try and cut down on usage, which saves schools money and cuts down on the usage of finite resources. Schools can do plenty of things to cut down on energy use, starting by encouraging small changes among students and staff. Things such as switching lights off when not in use, keeping doors closed, and shutting down electronics at the end of the day can make an impact.

The next step is to ensure the school is as energy efficient as possible. Installing smart meters, improving insulation, and using LED bulbs are all great places to start. While these money-saving ideas for public schools are a great start, they can take things one step further.

The final key to slashing energy costs is verifying bills’ accuracy each month. Errors and overcharges are common, and schools are likely to miss out on additional savings without continuous analysis of invoices.

This can be done through a utility audit, which can look into a school’s electricity bill as well as their water, sewer, and natural gas spending. Audits can go back over the past 36 months to check for errors and overcharges that can be refunded while also ensuring schools have the lowest pricing moving forward.

7. File for the Employee Retention Credit (Independent Schools Only)

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) was implemented by the CARES ACT of 2020, which is meant to help businesses affected by the pandemic. It’s a refundable payroll tax credit available to employers that experienced fully or partially suspended operations but retained their employees during the crisis.

While this program is for 2020 and 2021, businesses have until the end of tax season in 2024 and 2025, respectively, to claim their potential funding. But that’s not the only tricky thing about the ERC. The legislation and rules regarding what businesses are eligible and what employees may be covered have changed multiple times. Private schools can seek assistance with the Employee Retention Credit to help maximize their tax credit.

8. Work With a Cost Reduction Consultant

The fact is that principals, university presidents, and administrative staff have signed up to educate kids to be the future leaders of tomorrow. Unfortunately, they are probably not financing experts, nor do they have the time each month to search high and low for ways to save money. However, there are other people out there who are experts and know exactly where to look to find savings.

Hiring a cost reduction consultant is one of the best ways schools can save money. Administrators looking to uncover savings among various contracts and processes should leave the heavy lifting to the experts. P3 Cost Analysts have saved millions of dollars for hundreds of companies in the past and can do the same for schools. If you’re in charge of the seemingly impossible task of cutting costs for your school, set up a meeting with a cost reduction expert and see the savings roll in.

How Schools Can Save Money Without Affecting the Bottom Line

The most crucial thing in making school budget cuts is not to lose focus on the bottom line — to provide children with quality education and shape the future leaders of tomorrow. It’s crucial to avoid affecting the quality of education to save some money for a school district.

That being said, it can be challenging for schools to get increased funding, so how can school districts save money? One of the best ways to do this is through auditing the services that are non-negotiable to ensure that there are no unnecessary fees or overcharges. By using expert cost reduction consultants like P3 Cost Analysts, schools can hit all eight of these ways to save money without paying any money upfront. If you’re in charge of cutting costs for your school, schedule a free expense audit with one of our experts today.

Saving money without spending money is exactly what schools need.

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