The Strategic Sourceror recently highlighted a WSJ article that talks about how school districts across the country are going over budget, thanks to the cost of putting fuel in their big yellow buses. As an example for a strategy of mitigating the impact of cost increases, the post references the cast of one school district "who has chosen a fixed rate of $4.33 a gallon out of fear that fuel prices will continue to rise." Much of the rest of the article discusses how schools districts are cutting back in other areas to pay for the cost of fuel as well as dealing with lower revenue from property taxes that in some areas have turned South for the first time.
In my book, there might be a huge silver lining in the situation from a Spend Management perspective. For far too long, schools have been given what amounts to a blank checkbook to spend money (within reason) without the same level of fiscal discipline as the private sector. They've also awarded teachers and administrators with ridiculous pensions paid for by taxpayers -- over $80,000 per year in the case of one of my family members -- far beyond the average of what they made when they worked. This type of behavior must end, and the current oil boom is as great a reason as any to cut costs across the board in primary and secondary education, slaying sacred cows that have little or no impact on the quality of teaching and test score performance as well as tackling out of control teacher and administrator pensions.
- Jason Busch