Published On: Fri, Aug 12th, 2016

Here’s How Today’s Top Schools Are Saving Money

We all know that budgets are strapped at the moment. And one of the places this is being felt most acutely is in our local schools. Schools, it seems must bear the brunt of local and state budget cuts.

School children with iPads

It’s actually a very different environment in which schools find themselves. For years they’ve seen their budgets expand, and their pockets become ever deeper. But now, thanks to massive debts, things have had to change. Education, however, must continue. So what’s the solution?

iPads Instead of Textbooks

It seems odd to say it because we think of iPads as being expensive pieces of technology. But the truth is that prices have been behaving rather strangely recently. Electronics have continued their inexorable price decline. At the same time, the price of books has risen out of control. It’s partly down to the fact that publishers are in cahoots with the people who set the curriculum. But it’s also because the resale market is being suppressed. Both of these factors are combining to send the price of book skyrocketing.

It turns out that giving every child an iPad actually works out cheaper over the long run. Textbooks are expensive, take up space, and are revised every year. iPads don’t have the same running costs. Plus they can access any number of ebooks online.

Bulk Buying And Looking For Deals

From a purchasing power perspective, schools can be thought of as medium-sized businesses. And like medium sized businesses, they’ve started buying stuff in bulk. Sites like Wikihow recommend schools use bulk buying, especially if they are located remote, rural areas. There are also sites where schools can buy common school items for a significant discount. Schools can find classroom chairs, daycare furniture and bulletin boards for a fraction of their MSRP.

Using Last Year’s Computers Instead

Every year the price for a given amount of computing performance drops by about 30 percent. That means that computers from last year are usually about that much cheaper than new computers today. Go back two years, and the savings really start adding up. Many schools no longer see the point of buying the very latest kit. Both they, and their students, are content with something that’s a couple of years old, but still runs fast.

Volunteer Tutors

In 2014, statewide budget cuts in Colorado forced twelve local Adams schools to rethink the way they taught. The schools had to somehow come up with millions in savings. Out of necessity, the schools let go of their primary academic mentoring staff. But this left the kids without any one-on-one support at all. The school decided to turn to help from the United Way. The United Way got them in touch with the Colorado Reading Corps. Suddenly, members of the corps descended on these twelve schools to provide reading interventions. According to the man organizing the whole thing, it proved to be highly cost-effective. The reading Corps volunteers were then able to go on to train local parent volunteers. And then those parents were able to replace the roles once held by paid professionals.

Keeping Taxpayers Informed

One of the biggest challenges schools face is keeping voters informed about how they’re spending their money. Without communication between taxpayers and voters, those paying all the fees can start to get suspicious. Where does all their money go, they wonder? Steven Webb, a superintendent in Vancouver, recognised that there was a communication problem. And so he set out to tell the community exactly why schools needed their money and how they would spend it.

The community outreach was met with some success. Voters agreed to pay an extra tax to pay for IT equipment in schools. Students got a $24 million grant for things like laptops and tablets. And, a new initiative was launched that would see every student get a mobile device with which to learn. According to Webb the initiative was critical for the future of children in that area. After all, mobile devices are going to be an essential part of the workplace. And so it’s important that they know how to use them collaboratively.

Lowering Cost With VOIP

Many schools have aging phone systems that are expensive to run and don’t work very well. That’s why so many are making the switch to VOIP systems instead. VOIP systems are great because they allow schools to pay much lower prices than they did for old phone systems in schools. But they also let staff get their voicemail to emails, their primary port of call. This saves time rifling through voicemails, and it means schools pay lower prices to vendors.