Strategy Planning

6 Tips to Revamp School District Finances

Victoria Harkes
7 Minutes

Understanding and tracking finances does not have to be complicated.

Understanding and tracking finances does not have to be complicated

Leveraging technology will help you to manage your money and transactions so that your budget matches your strategic plan. These 6 tips can help you to revamp school district finances:

  1. Examine your Existing Processes
  2. Assign and Track Individual Payments
  3. Move Beyond Paper
  4. Automate as Much as Possible
  5. Support Adoption and Training for Everyone
  6. Streamline and Standardize Forms and Payments

1. Examine Your Existing Processes

Examine your existing processes

You need to understand the daily procedures of the school’s financial team and bookkeeper. This will help you to see what takes up a large portion of their time and where potential processes need to either be simplified or minimized.  

Example: Consider this! A single-day field trip usually involves a form that needs to be signed and more often than not requires the collection of money from parents to fund their child/children’s trip. It can be tedious to manually collect and track money coming in from many different families. Using technology can help organize and track collecting money and notify where money is still outstanding from students.

What you need is a solution that allows parents, students and the community to make a payment using a simple process that allows them to add to their cart, review their order and make the payment.

2. Assign and Track Individual Payments

Track Payments

Combine your cash management with your student information system to track the payment status of individual students and receive notifications for missed payments.

Example: Keeping track of a class of 28 students can be tricky. 8-year-old Josh was sick the day that forms were handed out and little Layla lost her form on the way home from school. To eliminate the chance of missed payments, staff and teachers can easily see when payments are missing so Josh and Layla don’t miss out on the end of year field trip.

What you need is a solution that provides a full payment process that manages transactions from individuals on both a school and district level; a platform that allows teachers, accountants, bookkeepers and staff to track, manage and address any missing payments.

3. Move Beyond Paper

Move beyond paper

The countless lost or damaged forms from students can make keeping things organized a real challenge. You can eliminate having to physically collect cash forms by collecting student payments online. Parents can submit payments and signed forms with the click of a button.

Example: Gone are the excuses the child lost their milk order or field trip forms! Kate, a single mother of three, works a full-time job and gets overwhelmed with keeping up with all the forms and paperwork the school sends home. A platform that allows her to access all forms and updates at her children’s school allows her to stay organized. Offering online payments and having teachers, parents and students access digital forms is not only convenient but also builds a more organized process for the school.

What you need is a solution that will notify the student and parent when a payment is due, simplifies the payment options and provides proof of payment. This eliminates the time spent organizing and submitting forms manually; not to mention saves quite a few trees!

4. Automate as Much as Possible

Automate as much as possible

It is time-consuming to organize receipts, write cheques, deposit money at the bank and create financial reports. Using online tools eliminates the hassle and increases the visibility for all staff members school and district-wide. This also allows staff to easily understand and manage processes. Identify what your team needs to do each time such as sending out reminders to parents and students to collect donations or payments for the graduating class field trip and set up a system that allows those process to run automatically.

Example: Sakshi appreciates receiving notifications to remind her about Mehul’s milk order form deadline. Sending out automated reminders not only keeps the parents informed but also allows teachers to keep track without having to send emails out manually.

What you need is a solution that is user friendly, easy to use and allows you to build your processes and have them run on their own.

5. Support Adoption and Training for Everyone

Support adoption and training for everyone

There must be support in place so that staff, parents and students are equipped to use online payment services, or better yet, have a solution in place that is simple and intuitive that requires minimal or no training at all! Anyone can log in and understand the system immediately and process payments with the click of a button. Support still needs to be there when payments don’t go through successfully or forms aren’t received.

Example: Mrs. Bridges is planning ahead for her Grade 8 science museum trip and would like to notify parents about the field trip and what is required for each child. Mrs. Bridges can log on and send out this form in less than five minutes. In return, parents can access this form immediately and pay trips fees in minutes.

What you need is a solution that supports your team in getting started and through the adoption for staff, parents and students.

6. Streamline and Standardize Forms and Payments

Streamline and standardize forms and payments

Create forms that can be used again and again, instead of having to re-create forms every time. A few standardized forms that can be used for any event or purchase simplifies the process and also eliminates the hassle of having to write a new form and make sure that it meets district and legal requirements.

Example: Rather than having 30 different forms from every school, there is 1 standard form, ensuring legal compliance such as a field trip form that can be used for each field trip of the year. It can be tweaked to meet the event criteria but minimizes the time of creating one and having it be approved by the board.

What you need is a solution that makes it easier to create, share and collect forms; a solution that helps you manage your forms right in a dashboard and is available for parents and students to see.

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

Streamlining your finances doesn’t have to be difficult, in fact doing so will save you time and allow you to work efficiently going forward. It also is a great way to know exactly what is coming in and going out. Technology can help shift away from tedious tasks of counting money and sending out new order forms. Allow your team to manage these tasks online by controlling and preparing reports and keeping them organized within a simple-to-use dashboard. There are several ways to streamline finances; examine your existing processes, assign and track individual payments, move beyond paper, automate as much as possible, support adoption and training for everyone and standardize forms and payments.

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