Helping High Schools Streamline Their Financial Processes

helping high schools streamline thier financial processes

With limited funding, high schools face the constant challenge of supporting student outcomes and district academic performance while optimizing the available resources. High school financial officers must complete complex accounting tasks year-round to align their funding with their programs, expenses, and educational goals. A lack of streamlined financial processes makes ensuring student success a struggle.

High schools must create a financial management plan to meet modern academic standards using limited funding. Effective financial management in schools helps high school staff supervise their school’s financial processes so students flourish and the district thrives.

Challenging Times

Public school systems across the country have faced funding challenges in the last several years, making it more difficult to fund support services for pupils and staff. Public school revenue from the federal government declined 1% from 2019 to 2020. Yet this figure is only a snapshot of the funding challenges public schools have faced in the past decade — public school revenue from federal sources decreased 32% from the 2009-10 to 2018-19 school years.

While state and local revenues have seen marked increases since 2009, schools still struggle to maximize their budgets while effectively serving students and staff. The twin pressures of rising high school enrollment and increasing per-pupil spending over the last 10 years may have many high schools feeling the pinch in their budgets.

Effective financial management in schools is always challenging and may become even more strained during economic uncertainty. From balancing budgets to maintaining assets and completing other daily and monthly tasks, high school financial officers face challenges in the years ahead.

 Tips for K-12 Schools

Financial management for schools demands a proactive approach that creates financial transparency and accountability at both the school and district levels. Here are a few practical tips for schools to help them streamline their financial processes and improve operations:

1. Eliminate Wasteful Spending

Ineffective, uncontrolled spending and hidden fees quickly drive up a school’s expenditures. Perhaps a particular program is no longer relevant, or vendor prices are rising. Carefully examining where and how the school spends its funds enables administrators to plan for more effective use.

School administrators should evaluate spending at the district and school levels to determine what costs to eliminate without negatively impacting student outcomes. Any inefficiencies may create unnecessary costs that restrict spending in more relevant areas, such as instruction and support services. Gather input from school staff and the community to find ways of reducing spending.

2. Set Transparent Goals

Effective financial management in schools requires commitment from the administration and staff and transparent milestones that provide an objective measurement for success. By setting short- and long-term financial goals for your school and communicating them effectively, you encourage departments to work more efficiently on accomplishing school objectives.

Budgeting is an excellent method to establish financial accountability in your district. Budgeting illuminates revenue and spending for your staff, streamlines financial decisions, and increases buy-in for your school’s financial goals. Involve your instructors, maintenance departments, and other staff in meetings with the budgeting department to ensure everyone understands the current financial situation and how it must adapt to meet the school’s needs.

3. Continually Evaluate Spending

Once your school completes a budget, ongoing evaluation is necessary. Circumstances constantly change, whether your district experiences a drop in enrollment one school year or receives additional funding from the state. One school year’s budget may not be as effective in a year.

Create monthly meetings for administrators and staff in the budgeting department to evaluate spending in the previous month and determine how it should change moving forward. Monthly meetings ensure you adjust your school’s expenditures to your needs and those of students. If some goals prove to be unattainable, revise them.

4. Build Forward-Thinking Strategies

As with any organization, schools benefit from creating long-term strategies for success. Moving beyond the short-term enables schools to improve student learning outcomes for years, whatever their budget. Planning for your school’s future with clearly-defined goals that align with your budget helps your administration stay on budget for the long term.

Create robust three-, five-, and 10-year strategies that include student achievement, program, and financial goals. Then outline actionable steps at various phases in each long-term strategy to give administrators and staff guidance as they implement the plans. If administrators and staff ensure they stick to the strategy, they have the space to streamline financial processes over time while accomplishing school objectives.

5. Implement Needed Changes

When your school begins to streamline its financial processes, there may be some pushback from staff and the community. Change is difficult, especially if it involves spending and program cuts. Working with your team and parents may lessen the resistance to spending reductions, but there may still be opposition.

It’s essential to listen to concerns while still weighing the cost-effectiveness of each option. Your school’s responsibility is to benefit as many students as possible with its available funds. Doing so may require some difficult decisions, but over time you’ll be able to demonstrate the cost savings.

Use Software Specifically for the Education Sector

High school budgets are often complex, unwieldy data sets that can be challenging to translate into actionable changes. Using accounting software purpose-built for schools gives your administration and staff real-time insight into your school’s financial condition that helps drive strategic improvements. This software solution focused on the education sector is tailored to schools’ unique needs, promoting more insightful budgeting and making it easier for schools to stay on track.

Accounting software for schools provides several features, including:

  • Integrated reporting: Having automated reports of your school’s financial information saves your administrators time and makes tracking your fund sources and spending easier. Accounting software for schools provides enhanced chart of accounts capabilities that allow schools to report their financial information however they like.
  • User-friendly dashboards: Accounting software for schools compiles a school’s net tuition and funding from multiple sources and presents it in a user-friendly dashboard. Users gain increased visibility into accounting information displayed in a streamlined view.
  • Customization: Customizable software enables your school to use the features it needs most. With various modules to choose from, schools can scale their accounting software to grow as needed.
  • Compliant record-keeping: Managing compliance is another primary consideration for schools. Using accounting software designed for the education sector, high schools can comply with relevant requirements from the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).
  • Budgeting and forecasting: Software designed for the education sector enables schools to create unlimited budgets and forecast their financial information into the future for more strategic planning.
  • Advanced data security: Schools are at risk for data breaches and cyberattacks, making data security vital for keeping content safe. Accounting software for schools uses security features that prevent unauthorized third-party entry and give administrators increased visibility into who accesses their accounts.

Get a Demo for High School Accounting Software

At MIP Fund Accounting®, we offer accounting software and services built to help schools manage their finances with greater insight. Our solution’s comprehensive financial tracking enables you to improve your high school’s financial processes, engage more fully with donors, make more informed financial decisions, and optimize your operations. Through our flexible and scalable accounting software, your high school is empowered to take control of its finances and make a more significant impact on students.

To see the MIP Fund Accounting® software solution in action, request a demo today.

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