Charter schools often face a lot of criticism regarding their lack of transparency in funding. The question of where the money comes from and where it goes, is often an argument that works against the growth of charter schools.
Yet beyond the argument regarding funding and visibility of charter school budgets, there are concerns that charter schools provide little, if any, benefit to students in a given district. “A 2014 charter school comparison report card from the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding showed seven out of 13 charter schools funded to educate those 93 [Geneva] students received a performance index grade of D or lower. Only four received a C grade.”
However charter schools are not without any substantial reason for existing. In some states charter schools have proven that they are able to improve graduation rates across classes. Students in New York were more likely to graduate from school if they participated in the charter school program. Whereas more efficient charter schools in Texas have shown a higher grade average for students across test scores.
Yet when it comes down to it, a large reason for the troubles charter schools face is due to their lack of transparency in spending and funding. It’s no secret that charter schools take a lot of state funding. The question of where the money towards charter schools goes is a sensitive one across municipal and state politics. But to combat fears of misappropriation of funds, there is a new push towards better financial technology for charter schools across the U.S. The implementation of better software can dramatically reduce costs across an organization. And along this line of thought is the growing interest in educational procurement.
The benefits of ed-tech procurement are many, but to explain it simply, educational procurement can allow schools to measure the actual cost per student. In fact, there are three significant reasons more and more schools are turning to procurement technology. With the first reason being:
1. Cost Of Education
How much do teachers spend on students? If teachers could provide a concrete number, schools and districts could better understand the actual cost of running an academy.
Often time’s teachers have to make one-off, non-recurring purchases for their classrooms. This includes purchasing paper, pencils, rulers, and other classroom supplies. The difficulty is these one-time purchases are often untracked. It’s highly common for receipts to be lost and costs to be uncalculated, while business goes on as usual. However ed-tech procurement processes step in and establish either a manual or automatic process to measure these spending accounts.
Manual tracking processes can be as simple as using excel spreadsheets to track purchase needs and costs. Automatic procurement processes tend to keep everything within a single program, automatically tracking spending amounts and allowing everyone to see into a school’s budget.
2. Improved Communication Across Schools
Schools are moving away from traditional spending practices due to the inefficiencies manual procurement can create.
Another example of ed-tech changing the way teachers spend on classroom supplies, involves the procurement chain of command. Procurement technology is increasingly being introduced to charter schools to reduce the high volume of e-mail purchase requests. E-mails are traditionally difficult to track and an un-scalable practice for growing academies. By reducing the barriers for communication, cost per hour spent on labour is reduced while efficiency is improved.
3. Responsibility With Budgets
By including teachers into a school’s purchasing practice, it can give teachers visibility into school budgets. They can learn to understand how much is feasible to request and purchase against the school’s budget. Furthermore responsibility in spending transparency can allow teachers to feel included in the school’s purchasing decisions.
E-Procurement software can be integrated in a fashion that wouldn’t require any new excessive hardware. Cloud procurement solutions exist that work with any browser and on mobile. The ease of access that mobile procurement technology gives to teachers allows them to easily start tracking classroom costs.
The transparency educational procurement practices give charter schools is tremendously helpful in an age where charter schools are constantly hounded for funding misappropriation. Budgets can be better organized while funding becomes a more transparent practice. However this only explains the basics of why educational procurement processes are important. Every school will have different needs and abilities, and these differences must be accounted for when pursuing new procurement processes.
Procurify is helping charter schools such as AltSchool rewrite their purchasing processes to save money and increase their operational efficiencies though saved time, while helping them gain valuable insights into their spending. Learn more about Procurify and what we can do for you here.