Financial management in education is one of the most essential and challenging aspects of a school administrator’s job. Critical to a school district’s educational mission, the dedication of financial resources and their effective management directly impact student achievement.
School leaders have the complex task of matching available resources, monetary and human, with their educational initiatives. They must monitor and evaluate the success of these expenditures and use this data to inform future decisions. And they must do so with transparency and accountability to the stakeholders involved.
While each district faces its own set of challenges related to resource allocations, there are some commonalities. Each district has a finite set of resources limited by federal, state, and local factors, and each must invest a sizable portion of those resources into human capital. These human resources are the mainstay of a school district, implementing its instructional initiatives and impacting student outcomes. As such, the best financial management strategy is the one that includes the acquisition, allocation, and evaluation of this key component of your educational mandate.
Maintaining a Singular Focus
With the complexity of school budgets in mind, school leaders must skillfully guide their teams to maintain a singular focus when managing district finances:to efficiently use available resources to improve student achievement.
With student outcomes at the forefront of every decision regarding costs and expenditures, these decisions can only be made after a thoughtful review of district goals and a thorough analysis of student data. These considerations allow school leaders to establish priorities for budget allocations.
The next step involves taking stock of the district’s financial, capital, and human resources. These assets must be utilized in a way that maximizes their impact on student achievement, thus ensuring fidelity to the district’s mission.
Maximizing Personnel Investments
While most states have seen small increases in school spending, all districts are dealing with changing demographics and escalating costs. With wages and benefits accounting for four-fifths of annual expenditures, it is clear that decisions regarding staffing significantly impact school budgets.
The allocation of school resources to specific personnel-related expenditures is correlated with improved student outcomes. This includes hiring additional teachers to support smaller class sizes and offering competitive salaries to attract experienced teachers. Thus, both teacher quantity and teacher quality figure prominently. But these investments have been more difficult to achieve in recent years as school districts have been challenged to recruit and retain effective teachers due to a shortage of qualified candidates. There are effective ways to manage those staffing expenditures wisely.
Provide competitive teacher salaries and benefits
In order to attract highly qualified staff, school districts must provide financial incentives. The current economic climate dictates that districts must be willing to provide adequate compensation to retain talented educators capable of having a positive impact on their classrooms. Consider working with a substitute teacher staffing agency with built-in benefit packages for their substitutes to alleviate some financial strain on your district resources.
Invest in professional development
Ongoing investment in professional development is essential. Placing an emphasis on research-based best practices helps the district to evolve and remain on the cutting edge of effective instructional strategies. Providing job-embedded PD and covering substitute teacher services ensures that all teachers benefit.
Assign paraprofessionals strategically
Paraprofessional educators can extend the reach of classroom teachers by providing one-on-one or small group support. Often allocated to special education and early childhood classrooms, paraprofessionals help students to develop independence through repeated practice. They may provide remediation or enrichment, support technology integration, or fill a variety of roles in the classroom and around the school. Planning their placement strategically can enhance support for learning goals and boost student success.
Invest in technology to increase productivity
Providing technology to increase efficiency helps educators handle the many tasks involved in their multifaceted jobs. Technology applications enable instruction, assessment, data collection, and reporting. In addition, they enhance communication and professional development capabilities. Giving educators the tools they need to be more effective significantly increases productivity.
Utilize the services of an education staffing agency
Experts at the recruitment, retention, and management of education professionals, substitute teacher staffing agencies partner with school districts to deliver customized solutions that extend your HR reach. Consult with a full-service agency that handles the hiring, credentialing, and training process to provide you with a carefully vetted team of classroom-ready professionals. They can provide a fresh perspective and innovative solutions to some of the most frustrating staffing dilemmas, including substitute teacher management, filling sudden vacancies, and eliminating soft costs.
Using Resources Wisely
As school administrators work to stretch that 80% of their budget invested annually in personnel costs, they must remain focused on their primary goals. To improve outcomes for students, school districts must recruit and retain highly-qualified and effective professional educators. From teachers to paraprofessionals and substitutes, investing in human resources is an expenditure proven to benefit students and improve their academic achievement. Look for insight to maximize this important investment by calling on the experts and investigating your options.
Contact ESS for help in making the most of your human resources investment. From substitute teacher services to the placement of a variety of school personnel, we can help to support your mission while maximizing the return for your school community and its students.
Phil has been supporting school districts across the country for more than 12 years. He works hands-on with districts implementing customized solutions to improve their substitute teacher and support staff programs. When he’s not increasing districts’ fill rates, Phil can be found swinging his clubs on a golf course.