Saving Money on Your School District Debt
Although this may have been a summer to forget, there is a silver lining for school districts with outstanding debt. Tremendous potential exists for school districts savvy enough to take advantage of lower interest rates. Financially robust school districts with outstanding debt obligations should evaluate their refinancing opportunities now.
Controling Health Benefit Costs
Some districts are renewing efforts to reduce health insurance costs. Incorporating health maintenance and employee assistance programs into insurance plans is an innovative strategy to reduce district costs. Such programs can reduce employee stress and enhance quality of life. Healthier employees use less sick time and have fewer medical expenses.
It Takes a Thief
Some dishonest individuals may be tempted to make your district’s equipment and supplies their own. School districts are easy targets because most people do not expect an employee to be dishonest. Unfortunately, opportunistic people recognize weak internal controls. Remember that thieves are not necessarily strangers.
Should You Outsource Special Ed?
Outsourcing special education services may be a way to contain costs, but simply walking away from a long-established arrangement of providing special education services in-house, as part of a school district’s core mission, is not easy. The decision to outsource special education services has to made on a district-by-district basis.
Saving Your Schools, Creatively
New York’s Newcomb Central School District met the challenges of declining enrollment with a creative solution. Superintendent Clark “Skip” Hults partnered with an agency that screens and matches international students with districts around the county. Hults revitalized the district by accepting international students and charging them $4,000 tuition a year.
Balancing the Booster Clubs
Dealing effectively with booster clubs requires more than simply accepting their hard-earned donations and doing what they ask. If districts don’t approach the question of booster club support with well-considered policies, they could open themselves to a host of potential problems, including negligence suits, Title IX violations, and even embezzlement and fraud.
Asking the Right Questions
The key to your district’s ability to fulfill its mission depends on your board’s ability to ask the right questions and get the right answers. Thoughtful questioning will yield the information necessary to determine whether your district is meeting its educational and financial goals.
Careful School Budget Cuts
When delaying major repairs and capital projects is not sufficient, administrators consider staff reallocation or reductions. But when considering savings that can be generated by outsourcing and cutbacks, be sure to consider the intangibles. Long-serving district employees become part of the school community and can be depended on
School Year Budget Transition
British Columbia’s board voted to close an elementary school in response to a $14 million budgetary shortfall caused by staff accounting errors as well as a persistent decline in enrollment. Such dilemmas can confront a school district as a result of human error and a lack of board oversight.
Teaching Money Management
We can learn a lot from our nation’s recent financial meltdown, but whether you blame it on the industry or the individual, there’s no denying we clearly need to go back to basics. That includes what we teach our children about money.
In the authors’ survey more than 70 percent of teachers reported they would leave the classroom and retire if they could due to stress. Almost 75 percent stated their health was being affected emotionally and physically. More than half of the teachers surveyed described multiple health problems.
Stopping Cyber Thieves
Cyber-robbery is on the rise because of the inverse correlation between the risks and the rewards. Even though the amount of money stolen in a cybercrime is far greater than that taken in a traditional holdup, criminal penalties are lower because no weapons are used.
School District Borrowing
As a board member, you can ensure that your district is protected when participating in the municipal bond market. Review written assurances that duties are appropriately separated, and ascertain no conflict of interest exists between the entity selling your bonds and the broker arranging the investments of the district’s proceeds.
Protecting Schools from Construction Scams
Dishonest contractors have numerous ways to take advantage of districts, but the Loser’s Club scam is among the most insidious. Vendors work together to position themselves for best advantage, leaving victimized districts with significantly inflated construction costs. How does it work?
Planning for Special Education
Public schools must provide services for every child, including those with special needs. Special education costs account for an ever-increasing portion of the budget in most districts. What can your district do to prevent special education fraud? Begin by asking questions about the process of securing special education services.
How to Manage E-rate
E-rate brings affordable telecommunications and Internet access to schools and libraries. This money has helped to increase broadband connectivity and establish a strong partnership between education and online resources. Broadband connectivity also is making schools safer. Here's what you need to know about changes made in the E-rate requirements since last year.
Education Funding Woes
Funding formulas used to distribute state and federal education dollars hamstring the ability of local officials to respond properly when cuts are needed. Plus, Lawrence Hardy’s “Snapshots” of the financial situation facing districts in Texas, Wisconsin, and North Dakota.