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4 Unsung Reasons Why Running a Classroom is like Operating a Small Business

running-a-classroom-banner “You have to do a LOT of bookkeeping,” explains Lynn Maslinkski, a veteran third-grade teacher in Avon, Ohio. “Our bookkeeping involves attendance, keeping track of grades, keeping track of student data, and much more.” Teachers must excel in many of the same operational tasks as small business owners, including budgeting, asset and inventory tracking, funding compliance, and leadership. These fundamental responsibilities require a wide variety of skills—skills normally assigned to specialized individuals or departments in a larger company, like finance or IT.  Fortunately, many of the same tools used by small business owners can be implemented by teachers to complete those tasks. Here’s a look at four reasons why teachers should run their classrooms just like a small business owner:

1. Budgeting

iStock_000027240976Schools and small businesses operate within very strict, very tight budgets. Whether just starting a new business or just beginning the first-year teaching, your budget is even tighter than your competitors/veteran teachers. Teachers can keep track of their classroom’s allocated budget and out-of-pocket expenses with the same industry-leading accounting software designed for small businesses; for example, Quickbooks or a free, online money-tracking tool, such as Mint.com.

2. Asset Tracking

Keeping track of equipment issued to students— like laptops, iPads, textbooks, and science equipment— is just as important for teachers as it is for employers who issue similar equipment to their employees. If a laptop can’t be located at the end of the school year, replacing it becomes an unnecessary expense for an already budget constrained school.  In such cases, an asset tracking system pays for itself in loss prevention alone.

3. Inventory

iStock_000017009676Like every office stocked with pens, pencils, paper, tape, glue, etc.— teachers responsible for classroom supplies know the importance of inventory tracking. Running out of the stock used by students to complete assignments and projects or the stock used by teachers to design and grade those assignments, impedes teaching and learning.

4. Compliance

A myriad of industries are regulated by the government, including financial, medical, food, construction, and, of course, education. Like businesses that must pass annual inspections and audits, schools must account for fixed assets and consumable inventory purchased using federal or state grants and loans.  Auditors expect specific documentation be provided as to the location and use of any items purchased with funds given; failing to do so could result in repayments, fines, and loss of future endowments. Your turn: Did we leave out any common operational tasks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, below.