US: Districts Scour Budgets for Potential Savings

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    Cost-Cutting Measures Seek to Streamline Everything From Transportation to Teacher Assignment and Student Scheduling


    With nothing but financial hardship on the immediate horizon, many districts are taking new approaches to scouring their budgets for potential savings—and, in some cases, also comparing their performance against that of other school systems.


    Some of their strategies focus on cutting costs in the nuts and bolts of district operations, such as transportation, purchasing, and maintenance. Other cost-saving measures are aimed at reworking teacher assignments and class schedules. In many cases, school leaders say that their primary goal in making changes is to improve services and streamline operations for the benefit of students, parents, and taxpayers—not to reduce costs.


    Yet the potential financial payoff from those strategies has become increasingly important to district officials during this difficult financial period, as they face pressure to trim budgets while also meeting standards for academic achievement. School systems like Florida’s Orange County district have made changes with dual purposes in mind. Administrators in the 180,000-student district, which has a $1.3 billion annual operating budget, found savings everywhere from their bus routes to their warehouse and supply operations.


    Read the full article by Sean Cavanagh Education Week, 11 January 2011