District Administration September 2017 - 46

Keeping a lid on personnel costs
Auditors examine job descriptions
and salaries, and interview employees to
get a sense of the on-the-ground reality.
They then provide administration with a
report that identifies potential cuts.
"The report may say, 'You have duplication of work here. You could eliminate
this job and consolidate these two,'" says
Schilling, noting that personnel audits
can also turn up some surprises. A large
district he worked with learned it could
actually save money by hiring someone
to distribute mail, rather than asking existing personnel to step away from their
tasks to do so.

BUILDING BONUS -Island Trees School District in New York saved about
$500,000 a year after it reorganized a pair of K4 elementary schools into a K1
building and a school for grades 2 through 4.

"Can you reduce custodians if you have
teachers put the trash can by the door
at the end of the day, so custodians can
work more efficiently?"
The district also chose not to replace
teachers who had retired, causing a slight
uptick in class sizes, he adds.
A confluence of factors beyond administrators' control have created some
unique fiscal challenges. Districts' hands
are tied, for instance, by union contracts
and government policies, says Paul Hill,
founder of the Center on Reinventing
Public Education at the University of
Washington Bothell.
"There's no real way to save a lot of
money if you've got a teaching force
that's on a salary schedule and you've got
state requirements about how schools are
staffed and about class size," Hill says.
Despite the challenges, administrators
nationwide are curbing personnel costs.
The following are six strategies for balancing the budget without drastically affecting instruction:
Use technology to find efficiencies
Powerful software makes it easier than
ever for district administrators to spot
inefficiencies, such as duplication of responsibilities. "HR software is becoming
46 September 2017

more sophisticated," says Craig Schilling,
an associate professor of leadership at
Concordia University Chicago. "Many
programs now incorporate what is referred to as 'position control,' so every
position is accounted for and you know
exactly where all the money is going."
This type of software tracks salary
budgeted for the position, rather than for
the employee who holds it.
Some analytics software also allows
districts to compare spending more accurately. Administrators-instead of calling
colleagues in other buildings or districts
to compare teacher salaries or custodial
expenses-can "tie themselves together"
via software, Schilling says. An administrator who notices the district has one
aide per 10 students-while similar districts are staffed at a 13-to-1 ratio-can
investigate further to see if that higher
level of staffing is necessary.
Perform a personnel audit
Hiring a third party to conduct a personnel audit when you're feeling a budget
crunch may seem extravagant, but the
investment can be worthwhile.
Outsider eyes can more objectively
assess your staffing patterns and suggest
potential changes.

Outsource non-core tasks
Core functions are those directly related
to instruction; non-core functions include food service, transportation and
cleaning. Outsourcing non-core functions can decrease personnel costs by
eliminating staff salaries and benefits-
but districts can't completely wash their
hands of the outsourced tasks.
The districts that outsource the most
effectively retain someone on staff to
monitor the performance of the company hired to take over non-core work.
That person should frequently compare
the services performed against the work
agreement to make sure that the district
is getting what it's paying for.
Reconfigure classes
Rethinking how students are grouped can
save significant sums. A district that has
two K5 elementary schools, for instance,
may be able to save money by designating one school K2 and the other grades
3 through 5. "When you put all the kids
at one grade level in the same building
instead of having sections in each building for each grade level, you don't need as
many teachers," Schilling says.
Island Trees School District in New
York saved nearly $500,000 per year after
transitioning a pair of K4 elementary
schools into a K1 building and a school
for grades 2 through 4, says Charles
Murphy, superintendent of the Long Island school system.
"The school district saved a lot of
District Administration



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration September 2017

District Administration September 2017 - Cover1
District Administration September 2017 - Cover2
District Administration September 2017 - 1
District Administration September 2017 - 2
District Administration September 2017 - 3
District Administration September 2017 - 4
District Administration September 2017 - 5
District Administration September 2017 - 6
District Administration September 2017 - 7
District Administration September 2017 - 8
District Administration September 2017 - 9
District Administration September 2017 - 10
District Administration September 2017 - 11
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District Administration September 2017 - 14
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District Administration September 2017 - Cover3
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