School Business Affairs February 2019 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | FEBRUARY 2019 5 A s school business officials, we are responsible for making effective use of available resources. To do that successfully, we must take the initiative to explore creative strategies—new ways of doing things. Raising Funds One area that lends itself to innovation and creativity is alternative sources of revenue. Since the 2007 recession, decreased state fund- ing has forced many school districts to look for alternative funding simply to keep their pro- grams running. Those sources include conduct- ing fundraising drives, establishing education foundations, charging fees for activities (pay to play, for example) or transportation, leas- ing school facilities or land, selling advertising space and merchandise, selling naming rights, soliciting sponsorships, and pursuing grants. The opportunities for new revenue genera- tion are closely tied to what the district has to offer. Some school districts allow cellular providers to mount antennas on existing school infrastructure or erect cellular tow- ers on district land under leasing or easement arrangements that can provide the district with thousands of dollars per year. Many school districts lease their facilities for public or pri- vate use, bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars by providing access—at a cost— to cafeterias, gyms, athletic facilities, and auditoriums. An important factor in the success of alter- native sources of funding is a strong, positive relationship with the community. Whether it’s raising funds from product sales or soliciting donations for district education foundations, school districts must have a connection with stakeholders built on trust and transparency. Grants are also a fertile source of funding. It’s a matter of focusing on your district’s most critical needs, finding what’s available and tak- ing the time to apply. A successful grant can bring the district millions of dollars. Districts must keep in mind, however, their ability to sustain the grant-funded program or service after grant funds have been exhausted. Reducing Costs Another area that often lends itself to some creative thinking in the school business office is cost reduction. Districts reduce expenditures in a variety of ways, including shared services and collaboration with other school districts, governmental agencies, or community organi- zations; public-private partnerships; alterna- tive service models; technology to improve efficiency and service levels; and total quality management or lean business practices. School districts have used public-private partnerships to decrease the costs of construc- tion, partnered with other school districts to share services such as transportation or accounting, and invested in technology to improve efficiency district-wide. Outside the Box ASBO International Pinnacle Award recipients have demonstrated their creativity in areas as varied as onboarding models for new staff to district-community partnerships for vocational training. If you want inspiration or are ready to share your innovative project, learn more at . Much of our inspiration as school business officials comes from our willingness to learn from and share with our colleagues. Become more engaged in ASBO International and take the opportunity to share your creative strate- gies with your colleagues across the globe— working together we can make a difference. School Business Creativity By Tom Wohlleber, CSRM president’s message Tom Wohlleber Chief Financial Officer Casa Grande (Arizona) Elementary School District Charles E. Peterson, Jr. MBA, PRSBA, SFO Immediate Past President Marvin Dereef Jr., SFO Director through 2020 Bill Sutter, SFO Director through 2020 Michael Johnston Director through 2019 Angela Von Essen Director through 2019 2019 Board of Directors WORKING TOGETHER to ma ke a difference Claire Hertz, CSBA, SFO Vice President Susan Harkin Director through 2021 John Hutchison, CPA, SFO Director through 2021