Asset management as smart as your school

4 min

Reduce School Loss with Asset Tracking Software

School systems manage an incredible amount of inventory, including computers, televisions, mobile devices, smartboards and other equipment. Keeping track of this massive amount of inventory is a major challenge for school districts, a challenge that they all too-often fail. Inventory tracking systems along with the adoption of better inventory practices can help schools better keep track of their equipment.

The Case of the Missing $48 million   A 2013 audit in the Shelby County School district in Tennessee found that more than $48 million in equipment was missing. The missing equipment consisted of more than 54,000 items, including computers, driver training cars, and tools.  The problem arose after a merger of two school systems.

More than half of the missing equipment was eventually found, but the remainder of the lost inventory represented a significant financial loss and a major embarrassment for the system. The Shelby County loss wasn’t an isolated incident. An audit in the Philadelphia City School system showed that it was missing $196,000 in computers, band instruments, maintenance equipment, and more.

According to auditors who handled the Shelby County School district audit, inventory losses of 20 percent are not uncommon in school districts.

Tightening Budgets

The post-Great Recession era remains a time of very lean budgets for public education.  States are providing less money for K-12 education than they did prior to the 2008 financial crisis, even though state revenues have improved since then. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 35 states have spent less per pupil for the 2013-14 school year than they did before the 2008 financial crisis. About 14 of those states have cut funding by more than 10 percent.

Schools simply can’t afford to have 20 percent of their equipment go missing. When school systems must replace missing equipment, it takes away needed funds from other programs. More effective management of inventory can help school systems put money to use in the classroom instead of replacing items lost due to mismanagement or theft.

Inventory Management Software

Technology can go a long way toward helping school districts better manage their equipment. New inventory management software programs provide a quick and convenient way to keep up with each and every piece of school system equipment.

Asset tracking software and hardware can help school systems better keep track of their equipment. An inventory management program that used tamper-proof, scannable labels to tag equipment would work well in a school setting. The labels would be placed on each piece of equipment and entered into the system. When equipment is checked out or moved, the labels would be scanned and information about their use or transferred would be entered into the system. New software makes scanning these labels easy.

Many applications allow users to do it with their smartphones. Many school systems are now participating in one-to-one initiatives that provide students with netbooks, iPads or other expensive technological devices. New asset tracking software can help school systems keep track of this investment; some even offer GPS tracking of devices.

Good asset tracking software can help ensure that school systems can keep track of costly equipment and reduce the labor necessary to achieve this important task, making this software a worthwhile investment.

Better Management Techniques

In addition to inventory management programs, school systems can do a better job of keeping track of their equipment by implementing a few changes to their management system.

Some good practices for inventory management include:

Installing security cameras and access control devices to areas where equipment is stored can help school districts better manage their equipment. Video footage and access control provides districts with a way to know who has access to inventory and when the inventory was last accessed. Security cameras also often deter students or employees from stealing school equipment.

Insist that the inventory management software be used properly by trained individuals. Inventory tracking systems will only work if it’s used properly. Scanning, logging, and other important tasks need to be non-negotiable for staff members who use school system property.

Limiting access to editing functions of inventory management programs will also help deter loss. Inventory management programs are only as good as the information that they have to work with. If employees can change information in the system, they could alter records to cover theft, accidental loss, or destruction of property. Only trusted employees should be able to edit information in a school system’s inventory management software. Also be sure that employees do not share user names and passwords.

Informing employees of new inventory management measures will also help school districts reduce loss. Letting employees know that a sharp eye is being kept on inventory will deter theft and accidental loss or destruction of school system equipment.

Public school budgets are tight and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Schools need to realize every efficiency technique possible so that they can continue to provide a quality education to their students. Asset tracking software will reduce waste and theft and allow school systems to invest dollars where they belong – in the classroom.

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