Many US school systems have been enduring increased budget pressure, which raises barriers to trying new initiatives that could improve teacher quality and educational performance. But if systems can thoughtfully reduce their spending on non-instructional functions (such as maintenance, transportation, food services, IT, security, employee benefits, and general supplies), which the US Department of Education has found to make up roughly 39 percent of system budgets in most states, they may be able to relieve some of the pressure and even free up money to invest in student outcomes.
This article, based on our analysis of US school systems, explains how sensible, proven improvements in purchasing, operations, and employee benefits can free up as much as 10 percent of a school system’s total budget. And with rigorous planning and execution, these measures could also maintain or improve service levels and correct inefficiencies that commonly lead to worker dissatisfaction. Similar principles may apply in other countries, but the details and impact may differ based on the environment in which systems are operating.