The 2020-2021 back-to-school season looks different across the U.S. as schools prepare to reopen in a “new normal” environment due to impacts of COVID-19. While in-person instruction and the routines of school add to the success of students, this year school business leaders must make difficult choices while maintaining the health and safety of students and staff.
Nearly every school and district face increased costs to deal with COVID-19 needs like cleaning, social distancing, and infrastructure changes. Many also foresee budget shortfalls because of reduced tax revenues and other depleted sources—despite receiving short-term relief in CARES Act funds. School business leaders have a lot to do to prepare operations for the new normal, and on top of that, make sure all the costs are covered.
There is no “new normal”
Many districts are drafting plans that allow for multiple reopening options and the flexibility to modify the way classes are delivered as the situation in their school, district, and region change. For example, many are looking at learning plans for traditional in-classroom education, blended learning, and 100% virtual, or online, learning.
“If we start school in a hybrid education environment, we have to be prepared to go back to distance learning at any point. If we start with distance learning, we could transition into hybrid learning as well, so we just have to stay flexible and make sure we’re prepared for any scenario,” says Robert Craven, Assistant Superintendent, Facilities, Operations, and Technology, at Saddleback Unified School District, California.
Managing resources to cover the new learning options falls on business leaders who must quickly work across teams to shifts plans for transportation, food service, and facilities cleaning. For options like split schedules, aligning transportation is no easy task, but the rewards include increasing safety and cost savings. It would maximize district transportation resources while reducing the number of students on the bus at one time, the need for new staff or buses, and the number of buses in the school’s loading zone. For food services, staggering transportation would assist with staffing for child nutrition and allow for “grab and go” breakfast options for families.
When every dollar really counts, districts would be in a better financial position if they had real-time, accurate reporting tools to manage quickly changing needs and to find efficiencies. The right administrative software can provide a single view of HR, finance, and payroll with dashboards and detailed reporting.
Budgeting for the 2020-21 school year
“While we saved some money from closing school early this year, new needs due to COVID-19 like cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer, personal protective equipment, remote meeting technology subscriptions, instructional supplies for remote learning, chromebook devices, internet access for students and increased payroll due to premium pay more than offset any savings,” says Karen Smith, CFO of Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District in Houston, Texas.
With ever-changing revenues and costs, it is even more important to have a streamlined finance and HR system that can help you keep tabs on exactly where you are with your budget at all times.
Meeting back-to-school challenges with an integrated finance and HR solution
One way to address tight budgets is to tighten up operations by ensuring real-time access to fund and expense data as well as streamlining processes. An integrated finance and HR solution can maximize dollars and make sure you are efficiently managing every cent possible. If you’ve been using a makeshift financial solution or relying on time-consuming excel sheets to get you through this trying time, you could benefit from switching to an integrated finance and HR solution by getting more security, peace of mind, and communication with your teams.
In addition, when using a hodgepodge of separate tools and processes, you could be experiencing hidden costs like fragmented data between budgets and expenses, poor collaboration between teams on budget planning, and expensive and time-consuming manual processes for finance and HR staff that could be better spent on improving efficiencies and supporting other departments. Learn more about how to improve district and budget efficiency with a connected K-12 ERP system.
“(Our ERP products) are a powerfully interactive system that keeps track of everything—our finances, students, and personnel—all in a one-stop-shop. The software keeps everyone more informed and gives us the tools to make better decisions,” says Mack Johnson, Management Systems Administrator, Rose Tree Media School District, PA.
Join us for the webinar, “Preparing Your Business Office for the New Back to School,” with Robert Craven, Ron Meyer, and Karen Smith sharing their budget plans.
The post Back-to-School Budgeting: Preparing Your Business Office for an Uncertain Year appeared first on PowerSchool.