Alert Solutions Blog

K-12 School Budgets: 4 Ways to Cut Costs Efficiently

Posted by Tara Gibson on Thu, Feb 14, 2019 @ 09:02 AM

Discussions on school budgets and cutting costs come up in K-12 school districts across the country each year. Every district looks for efficient ways to streamline operations and save money without putting students at a disadvantage and upsetting teachers, administrators and parents.  


The role and purpose of a K-12 school budget is outlined within the AASA White Paper: School Budgets 101 as “a district’s plan for the upcoming year as related to anticipated revenues and expenditures. School budgets allow districts to translate sometimes intangible missions, operations and objectives into reality by outlining and providing specific programs and funding/financial terms.”

According to the Government Finance Officers Association, “Budgeting principles and policies should be developed collaboratively by the district’s school board and the staff members who develop and recommend the budget. Because both parties have integral roles in developing, adopting, and, ultimately, implementing a budget, both parties must strongly support the principles and policies underlying the budget.”

Everybody should be involved with these important financial decisions, and everybody should seek to balance the school budget equally to benefit the district and in turn the teachers and students. So, how do you make these difficult resolutions?

Making Room in Your K-12 School Budget: 4 Suggestions

Cutting school budget costs is no easy feat. The below suggestions are examples of what some K-12 school districts have done to help with slimming down yearly costs.

  1. Target School Utility Costs
    One thing to consider when discussing your school budget is what your yearly utility costs are. If you’re able to bring down electricity costs from your building equipment and lighting, that may free up some room for your budget. According to School Leaders Now, a district in Grapevine-Colleyville found that the lightbulbs in all of their buildings were not energy efficient. “A company was hired to help encourage more energy-minded behavior, from decreasing water usage to making sure all lights were turned off at night. Together those strategies lowered the district’s utility bills from $4.7 million in 2011–12 to $3.3 million this past year (2017).”

  2. Consider Contracting Services & Sharing Services
    A School Budgeting Report refers to contracting services, or outsourcing, as “a practice of making agreements with outside organizations to provide services in a school district.” These outsourced services are a great way for you to maximize your school budget, and cut costs on services such as food & nutrition, transportation, security, custodial services, maintenance, tutoring, and more. Reduced purchasing costs occur with outsourcing as contractors often have the ability to buy in higher volumes. School districts can also share these services with other districts. In a recent study, “Deloitte found that potential savings across the country from shifting just a quarter of non-instructional services to shared services could potentially yield savings in the range of $9 billion.”

  3. Go Green & Paperless
    Did you know the average school with 100 teachers can use over 250,000 pieces of paper annually? We did the math in a prior blog post and found that these costs add up to about $32,500 in paper and printing costs. A shocking number for handouts! Our Secure Document Delivery Module allows administrators to send report cards, transcripts, school schedules, student evaluations, and more home to parents electronically (with no page limit), saving schools thousands.

  4. Online Schools & eTextbooks
    Most K-12 school districts receive money from the state based on student enrollment. In 2013 the Grapevine-Colleyville district launched a virtual school which boosted their number of students enrolled to almost 14,000. “The virtual campus within the district teaches students from all over the state. The expansion was a way to increase state funding and service a larger number of students with fewer teachers, resulting in cost savings.” Another way school districts can utilize online schooling and e-learning is by conducting Summer School online instead of on campus. Technology also makes it possible for schools to save money by switching from traditional textbooks to eTextbooks. Governing tells us “Traditional textbooks cost California $350 million annually. By transitioning to online textbooks, the state hopes to encourage students' participation in virtual learning while radically reducing textbook costs.”

Alert Solutions works with many school districts across the country. We provide an affordable school notification system, SwiftK12, with features like our Secure Document Delivery Module that allows schools to cut out paper and save money! Get started today.

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Topics: school announcement, mobile learning, report cards, educational technology, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, go green

3 Ways Going Paperless Can Save Your K-12 School Money

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Nov 21, 2017 @ 10:11 AM

K-12 schools across the country have been feeling the effects of deep budget cuts that seem to get worse each school year.

Before cutting extracurricular programs, teacher salaries and educational field trips, k-12 schools should consider reducing an expense that is often times overlooked: paper and printing supplies.paperless.png

Of course, paper doesn’t seem costly on a daily basis, but over the course of a school year it can add up. For example, the average school with 100 teachers can use over 250,000 pieces of paper annually!

Doing the math, that adds up to $25,000 in paper costs and an additional $7,500 in printing. Imagine what your k-12 school could do with an extra $32,500! Here are 3 ways your k-12 school can go paperless and start saving money:

1. Submitting Homework Online
Students can submit their homework online. This places everyone’s assignments in one place and prevents teachers from accidentally misplacing a student's work. Plus, this limits a student’s excuses. They can no longer says they ran out of ink or paper – or the dog ate their homework!

2. Digitize Parent Communication
Sending home flyers and other paperwork with students isn’t the most reliable way to get important information to parents. School notification systems can help k-12 schools significantly save money and alleviate their paper use by communicating with parents via voice calls, email and SMS text messaging. All of which can be tracked to confirm parents are receiving the message!

3. Implement Paperless Report Cards
Between paper, printing and postage costs, sending home tens of thousands of report cards isn't cheap. Compounding the issue, not all mailed report cards make it to their destination. Plus, with digital access to report cards, parents stay informed of their child’s progress throughout the school year.  

Did You Know? Alert Solutions offers PowerSchool users the ability to send report cards home to parents electronically with its PDF Builder. This school is saving thousands of dollars with it!

Decatur Public Schools Goes Green,  Saves Budget Dollars with Alert Solutions LEARN HOW

Topics: school announcement, report cards, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, go green, parent communication

K-12 Schools are Moving to Paperless Report Cards – 3 Reasons Why

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 @ 15:04 PM

Nervous students waiting for the mail to hide their report card from their parents may no longer have that option.

In this digital age, more and more K-12 schools across the country are nixing with tradition and moving to paperless report cards by sending home report cards to parents electronically.

Here are 3 reasons why:

1. Schools are Going Green.
Schools waste enormous amounts of paper. Did you know k-12 schools, on average, use about 250,000 pieces of paper each year? That’s crazy! With each student needing about 4 report cards per year, moving to a paperless report card system is a great way to eliminate excess paper use and reduce the school’s carbon footprint.Automated_Report_Cards-1.jpg

2. It Improves Parent Communication.
With digital access to report cards, progress reports and more, parents stay informed of their child’s progress throughout the school year. Not only is student and parent communication enhanced, but parent-teacher relationships flourish when student information is readily accessible any time.

3. There is a Significant Cost Savings.
With k-12 school budgets getting smaller every year, school administrators are always looking to cut spending. Between paper, printing and postage costs, sending home tens of thousands of report cards isn't cheap. Compounding the issue, not all mailed report cards make it to their destination.

Did You Know? Alert Solutions offers PowerSchool users the ability to send report cards home to parents electronically with its PDF Builder. This school is saving thousands of dollars with it!

Streamlining Report Card Distribution A Best Practice Guide

Topics: environment, school notifications, school announcement, report cards, power announcement, powerschool, education, go green

K-12 Schools Revitalize Report Cards to Enhance Parent Engagement

Posted by Cassie Breen on Tue, Jun 17, 2014 @ 14:06 PM

It’s the time of year when parents are beginning to receive report cards.  Opening up an envelope to find a paper with A, B, Cs and a few comments pasted across them is what traditional report card expectations entail – but what if that’s not enough anymore?

Parent engagement and parent communication is a crucial part of the K-12 school system.  Especially with the rising demands of state testing and new curriculum requirements, it is more important than ever that parents remain informed of their children’s progress in school, where they excel and areas where they need extra help.

ReportCardThese are just a few reasons why some K-12 schools are breaking away from the traditional quarterly report cards and implementing a more engaging and informative method.  For example, Georges Vanier Elementary School in Surrey, British Columbia began a pilot program to make communication between parents and teachers more detailed, frequent and collaborative.

The school sends messages to parents at least once a week through parent-preferred communication methods such as email and SMS text messaging.  These messages include items such as videos of a school project or a photo of their student’s journal entry, providing real-time insight into a student’s learning and progress.

Since the updates are more frequent and detailed than the average five or ten week progress report, a parent can view both their child’s highs and lows, eliminating the surprises that may come with more traditional report cards.  Although the school still distributes traditional report cards quarterly as well, they are hoping to move away from traditional report cards all together in the future.

This more cumulative and engaging method of progress reporting includes more than just test scores.  This allows the progress to be viewed and the grade to be compiled throughout the  learning process.  Through K-12 school notifications and technology, the report card procress is being redefined and invigorated, creating a greater environment for parent engagement and greater parent communication.

Do you feel like K-12 schools should revamp traditional report cards?  Share your thoughts on our blog!

Are you a PowerSchool user? Download our brochure to learn how our Automated Reports Module can help streamline report card distribution at your school.


       Download our Guide


Topics: report cards, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent engagement

Automated Report Cards Can Help Your School Avoid Distribution Delays

Posted by Cassie Breen on Tue, Mar 04, 2014 @ 13:03 PM

K-12 school districts across the US have been affected by the grueling winter this year.  Snowstorms have especially affected some schools across the southeast part of the country that normally are unaffected by this extent of winter weather.

GoingGreen resized 600Due to these unlikely circumstances, Prince George County Schools in Virginia is just one of the K-12 school districts that are seeing the effects firsthand.   The district has closed school four times this school year because of weather, twice as many times as the district canceled classes in all of the 2012-13 school year.

Prince George School District announced on its website that report card distribution has been changed due to the inclement weather.  The report cards, which are printed, sorted and distributed by the school system, were supposed to be dispersed on Thursday, Jan. 30. Instead, they went out on Wednesday, Feb. 5.

The use of automated report cards could have helped Prince George School District avoid this issue. Automated report cards allow school administrators to automatically send report cards, transcripts, student evaluations and more via email, in PDF format to student families, safely and securely. << Learn How Much You Can Save >>

By eliminating the process of manually printing, sorting and distributing report cards, schools can save on both valuable staff time and printing costs.  In addition to these benefits, automated report cards can also:

1.       Reduce Paper, Ink and Mailing Costs
2.       Ensure Delivery with Real-Time Reporting
3.       Receive Confirmations Electronically within Minutes
4.       Reduce Risk of Message Interception by Students

To learn more about Alert Solutions’ Automated Report Card Module for PowerSchool Users, download our brochure today!


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Topics: school notifications, report cards, power announcement, powerschool, education

Improve Report Card Distribution at Your School

Posted by Cassie Breen on Fri, May 31, 2013 @ 12:05 PM

It’s every student and teacher’s favorite time of the school year!  The fourth quarter is winding down for schools across the US and students and teachers are getting ready to enjoy the nice weather and summer break!  However, there is still one thing that stands in the way – report cards.

Schools districts are trying to finalize last minute grades for report cards to be distributed.  Teachers are getting their comments together and students are preparing their parents for the good or the bad news that might be inside their report cards.

Some of the challenges school districts face when sending report cards include:

  • toomuchpaper resized 600

    Cost of Postage, Ink, and Paper – With tight budgets, school districts spend thousands of dollars on paper, postage and ink each year for report cards alone.

  • Security in Delivery to Parents – School districts that send out report cards by mail or through student distribution run the risk of parents not receiving their child’s grades.

  • Time of Distribution – Schools that use paper report cards take hours of staff time to print them, package them for distribution and mail them out.

These challenges can be easily solved by using our Automated Report Card Module.  This allows school administrators to automatically send report cards, transcripts, student evaluations and more via email, in PDF format to student families.  This ensures secure delivery with real-time reporting. 

To learn more about Alert Solutions’ Automated Report Card Module, download our brochure today!

Topics: report cards, power announcement, powerschool, education

School Districts Change the A, B, C’s of Student Report Cards

Posted by Cassie Breen on Tue, Apr 09, 2013 @ 15:04 PM

It’s time again to send out report cards for many school districts across the nation.  As the third quarter comes to a close, teachers are submitting their grades and comments, and report cards are being distributed to student families 

Many school administrators have been working to change student report cards throughout recent years. Grades used to be universally distributed with the letters A, B, C, D, or F to describe student performance, but with standardize testing becoming more and more relevant, many schools are modifying their grading systems to coincide. 

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New grading systems are increasingly being seen on student report cards and have been integrated into schools across the country. These grading systems have been making a more widespread appearance, especially in elementary schools, adding more complexity into the grading of these young learners.  According to educations, these new grading systems will better gauge student progress.

Montgomery County, MD is one example whose district’s 132 elementary schools now use a new standards-based grading system  for report cards.  Under the new system, curriculum learning standards are grouped into measurement topics.  For example, social studies is now divided into several measurement topics, including culture, geography, and history.

The new system takes the letter grades of A, B, C, etc. and creates new letter grades for report cards which include:

  • P  - meeting grade-level standards

  • I – in progress to meeting grade-level standards

  • N – not yet making progress or making minimal progress

In addition to regular curriculum material, learning skills will similarly be graded.  There will also be charts and graphs, depending on grade level, detailing how a student is doing. 

Although this more complex grading system is seen by educators as a better way of explaining a student’s progress with regards to new curriculum and standardized testing requirements, there are still some concerns.

One major concern for school districts is whether or not using these new, multifaceted grading systems will be understood by the students themselves or their parents when they receive the report card.  Most parents and students understand what A, B, C’s stand for in grading, but there is fear that P, I, N’s and other letter combinations now being used in report cards may not be well-read. 

Does your school use a new grading system? Share your experiences on our blog!


Topics: report cards, grading, power announcement, powerschool, education

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