Saving Money

With the influx of federal monies from the Recovery Act coming to an end, state budgets providing limited support to schools and districts still being strapped for cash, a number of new ideas to reduce costs are being considered — some new, some old, some surprising.

Four-Day School Week

One such idea is the four-day school week. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the four-day school week has been an increasingly attractive option for legislators seeking to reduce education costs. For small, remote school districts, instituting a four-day school week may provide a savings by reducing transportation, heating, and staff costs. Supporters feel morale will be improved, attendance will increase and more time can be spent with loved ones. Opponents cite problems with long, exhausting class days and finding daycare for children whose parents work. Currently, 20 states have districts with schools operating on a four-day week. Legislation has been introduced in a number of other states that would allow schools to operate on a four-day week.

Students Save
The Washington Elementary School District in Phoenix, Ariz., has been recognized by EPA as an ENERGY STAR Leader for achieving a portfolio-wide energy efficiency increase of 20 percent (as compared to a 2008 baseline) — saving the district more than $1.5 million. Key to the success of this program was the adoption of a district-wide energy policy that empowered each school to make the changes they felt appropriate in order to achieve a minimum of 10 percent in energy savings during the first year, with an eye toward reaching a five-year goal of increasing energy efficiency by 40 percent. Each school created an energy plan and energy committee for its campus. District facility staff supported each principal and committee by providing information and education on energy usage and efficiency. Students became involved in various ways throughout the district. For example, Energy Violation Tickets were printed and provided to students so that they could write energy tickets when they saw a light left on or a door left open. The results were published so that all schools could see how their peers were performing. Good-natured competition found campuses competing with each other to see who could save the most energy. The welcome side effect of saving energy — saving dollars for their school.

These are only two of the money saving programs being implemented in our schools. If your school has such a program, let us know. Sharing your success can lead to better schools for all.