As a school administrator, you have many responsibilities on your plate. From creating the schedule for the school year to organizing student events to hiring and training new staff members, it can be easy to lose sight of priorities like budgeting amid a hectic semester. However, school budgeting is one of the most important things to keep track of because it can determine your funds for the upcoming years.
Every school has different regulations regarding delegated funding from school districts and committees. It’s critical that your school follows the conditions of your funding and spends the appropriate funds for the proper activities. If your school is struggling to maintain an effective budget or tends to overspend, investing in automation can help you keep your funds organized. This article covers how to maximize your school’s funds with some practical tips and budgeting software for schools.
5 Tips for Making the Most of Your School’s Budget
When allocating your school’s district funds, you’ll likely have to include many specific components, which can make budgeting a time-consuming and tedious process. Failure to maintain a detailed accounting system that lists each expense can make it even more difficult to work efficiently with your school’s budget and ensure all students have access to the essential resources. Review these tips to help you prioritize your budget and establish a cost-effective strategy.
1. Plan for Unexpected Expenses
One of the first steps to creating and managing your school’s budget is to check on your account responsibilities, payments, and district fund regulations regularly to ensure your school meets any requirements for expenses.
By staying on track with your budget and knowing exactly where all funds are going, you can more easily plan for unexpected costs, such as hosting school events or dealing with COVID-19 disruptions. It’s always a good idea to keep some safety funds aside to meet unpredictable issues that can arise or change throughout the year and help you be more proactive.
2. Focus on Progressing Toward Long-Term Goals
When planning your school budget for the quarter, semester, or year, it can be helpful to meet with your leadership and administrative team to discuss long-term school goals for the upcoming years. For example, you may have goals to build a new gym, provide students with more state-of-the-art technology, or invest in healthier food options in the cafeteria.
These changes can be expensive, particularly if you need to raise the funds without assistance from the district, so it’s important to budget accordingly to help you implement these long-term goals into your school improvement plan. No matter what your goals are for the school in the future, having group discussions can help you progress toward these goals and generate buy-in for your shared vision.
3. Understand Your School’s Budget Responsibilities
Every school has different funding rules depending on your state, district, school profile, and many other factors. Public and private schools will also have additional regulations for available funding, and some even have specific restrictions regarding how the administration can spend it.
Your team must track all spending to ensure you meet your unique regulations and adjust your budget accordingly. For example, if you’ve had to make many building repairs due to plumbing issues, you may want to increase spending on building maintenance to avoid these expensive repairs in the future.
4. Identify Opportunities for Savings
It can be helpful to think like a salesperson if your school needs to become more adept at saving money and reducing unnecessary costs. In your administrative meetings, encourage suggestions from your staff and have an open discussion about where you may be spending too much money when not required. Negotiating with vendors, suppliers, and local businesses for sponsorships can help you minimize costs for resources and extracurricular activities.
Hosting fundraisers to encourage local community members and families to contribute their time and donations to the school can help you stay on track with your budget while building community connections. You and your team must work together to find common ground for every expense and determine the best decisions for the students.
5. Automate Manual School Processes
In many ways, schools run like a business. Your administration likely has people who put most of their time into emailing, billing, payroll, and other manual processes that you can speed up with automation. While such programs come at a cost, you can receive even greater value by saving money on employee labor, increasing productivity, and allowing your staff to focus on other high-priority tasks.
Using software that can help you make your daily operations more efficient can go a long way with your budget and empower your team to improve while saving money in the long run.
Budgeting for Technology
No matter how big or small your school is, every administration wants to offer its students and staff the most current, advanced opportunities. Nowadays, this means providing modern, useful technology that can help all parties work more efficiently and help your school become more innovative.
However, investing in tech can be costly. Whether you want to provide laptops for all high school learners, ensure teachers have the newest interactive whiteboard systems, or equip your accounting staff with intuitive software, it’s important to budget properly for this technology. Here are some things to consider if your school is trying to budget for automated software or technology that can help you budget more effectively:
- Invest in multi-tasking tools: Buying software programs or tech that your school can only use for one purpose or one class may not be the best way to stretch your budget. Ensure that the software you invest in has multiple tools, controls, and solutions so your staff and students can get the most out of the technology.
- Purchase technology that meets your school’s needs: When budgeting for technology, it’s critical to ensure every expense meets your school’s wants and needs appropriately. For example, buying dozens of iPads for your computer lab may be exciting for students, but they may not be a practical choice if learners spend most of their time typing essays. In this case, you may benefit more from high-powered computers and laptops that are more functional for students. The same logic applies to your administrative staff needs.
- Avoid spending money on outdated tech: Some staff members and educators may prefer to use older technology due to familiarity or a belief that newer tech is too expensive. However, maintaining outdated software and technology can be more costly than investing in modern tech, which may damage your budget down the line.
How Budgeting Software for Schools Can Help You Manage Funds
Technology and automation have endless capabilities. From boosting productivity on the administration end of your school or providing students with new and exciting innovations, budgeting for technology can empower you with options that benefit everyone. Technology can offer a more agile, efficient process when manual processes stop meeting your needs. Luckily, investing in automation for your school can go beyond the classroom by helping your staff members improve data visibility, reduce human errors, and improve your accounting operations to align with better budgeting practices.
With budget planning software for schools, your administrative team can access real-time forecasting and create multiple budgets for various activities, making it easier to generate reports and share them with your school board. This type of accounting solution can help you enforce budget controls and alert you if you’re at risk of going over budget. Customizable budget modules also empower you with other capabilities, such as:
- Statements of expenditures to track grants
- Simple data transfer for enhanced team collaboration
- Dynamic chart of accounts for tracking projects and funds
- Multiple budget versions for comparing historical periods and fiscal years
See How Your School Can Benefit From Budget Management Software
Investing in the right tech can help your school budget more effectively and allow you to provide students with more opportunities for learning and after-school activities. With budget management software from MIP Fund Accounting®, you and your team can track expenditures and funding and create customized accounts that are meaningful for your school’s unique needs.
Our solution enables robust, integrated functionality that allows you to compare your expenses to your budget for specific circumstances, such as programs or grants, or on a school-wide, departmental basis. Budgeting can be an extremely stressful and time-consuming task, particularly if you lack a system that can replace manual, repetitive tasks. To learn how your school can better manage its finances, request a demo today to see our easy-to-use solutions.