As everyone else here has stated, we are all experiencing budget cuts and budget difficulties, and I would like to post up here how to save on costs across the board.
Switching Office programs for pupils
At my school we realised how much we were actually being charged to have the site licence of microsoft office, and thought that the cost was far too high for what we needed. We only need Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Publisher) so we switched to the Open Office variant and have had no problems at all. The kids prefer it as they can do more animation wise than they could with MS Office.
Switching Image Editing programs for Art / Design
We used Adobe photoshop and had 9 licences in our school for our Art/Design dept, and it was the IT departments money that was being spent on any software. So we sold back the licences to adobe and gave back the media, and switched to GIMP, which as far as the teacher knows, is the same thing just without the magic wand tool.
Changing from Dance Ejay to a new program
Again the IT dept. was responsible for buying all softwares, so we sold back the licences for dance ejay to the company we got it from and switched to a program called Magix Music Maker Basic, which has a much more professional feel to it, and has better samples (although less of them). The children prefer it also as they can make and add there own samples to it.
Changing from Dreamweaver
In the IT dept we purchased dreamweaver at a high cost for a site licence, of which we found a suitable alternative. We sold back the licence and media to adobe and instead downloaded and installed KompoZer. Its a free WYSIWYG web editor and works on the same basis as dreamweaver. The children know there was a change but they didnt seem to mind as they could still edit there work without a problem.
Changing the 3d Design program
We used Cybermotion 3D designer for the children, which enabled them to do some modelling of there work for graphic design and IT. We since switched to using Google Sketchup, Sweet Home 3D and Design workshop light.
Doin all of this saved my department in excess of £8000 per year which is now being spent on upgrading the suites. I thought you may like to hear of some success stories of using free / open source software.
mark (17th December 2008)
To save money this xmas we've used used rubber gloves as ballons in the server room instead of the real thing.
Much as I love belabouring the point but the key cost cutting measure at all my schools was moving to a small number of maintained CIS systems on a swaith of printers rather than the per classroom, clogged solid, slow, dust covered inkjets they used to have. £2k+ saving on the first year and £3k+ each year after that.
... that and hiring me instead of paying £35 an hour for an unnamed tech team to send a "near retirement" tech to work 3 times slower and fail to get anything working.
Moving to a helpdesk reporting system so issues are reported quicker and the next scheduled site visit then has the relevant parts ordered or the right tools for the job to hand rather than "surprise" time which still happens but less so. QED: less wasted time.
Plus getting heads to get proper advice on software pre-purchase, getting rid of softease before it became a must have, thus avoiding a £3,000 site license crazy bill... the list goes on but it all helps.
Nice, this has been kept for future use
I have a whole lot more cost savings on software if you want me to post up in the morning?
Switching from XP to Linux
Other ways that we saved money was changing our learning inclusion suite from Windows XP to Edubuntu. We have downloaded a massive stack of software for it and have the children using it. They like it alot as its more fun for them to use.
Changing audio recording programs
We had purchased 60 licences for a program called "Record Pad Professional" and when we realised there was an open source program called Audacity, we immediately asked for a refund and chose to get that program. It saved us £800.
Changing our computer viewer
By this I mean that we used a program called Synchroneyes. It is a brilliant program, but when I noticed that there was a free program called iTalc which does the same thing, we downloaded that and haven't looked back since. We spoke with Smart who sold on our licence for us and we have been happy with iTalc since. We have had no problems and this saved us £700 per year.
Switching our video editing software
We had been using video impressions (which came with our webcams) and microsoft movie maker (both of which are complete crap!!) and changed to Avidemux which did everything we required whilst not being as CPU and RAM intensive as the other 2 programs. This served our purpose well and is a brilliant substitute for them.
Here is the list of download links for the free / open source software that we use.
Magix Music Maker
Sweet Home 3d
Design Workshop Light
Switching to these saved my department a small fortune every year (infact enough to have a new server installed every year if we wanted too!!!)
This is how we've cut some costs here:
Ensuring that any mice we replace are optical mice. The constant stream of mice balls going missing soon adds up - both in time and money.
Switched 1 classroom to thin clients - currently using Windows/Citrix but I think we should be trying an edubuntu install at some point.
Ensure all rooms have their power turned off at night, at the wall (we do this by having the power breakers in the rooms themselves, so just turn it off there at night). This prevents things like ATX power supplies starting themselves up or computers accidentally being left on.
We got rid of most inkjets in the school, now those depts that need printers have their own laser. So, cost per page has dropped significantly. (As has the amount of ordering of ink going on!)
I also looked at what we were paying for on our MS School agreement, seeing that we were paying for licenses for SQL server, and SMS server, without using either.
The final thing we did was to start following proper county rules and are now getting the full 3 quotes for everything, so instead of us buying everything from 1 supplier like we seem to have done in the past, we now shop around.
paint.net a favorite here
MS School Agreement: If you are on this, buy any extra PC's just after your annual renewal so you have the longest period before you have to report them on your agreement.
Purchasing: Force all of your large suppliers onto the Catalyst framework pricing. Not only do you get cheaper prices, but also free carriage whatever the size of order.
Also, get set up on their online purchasing portals and learn how to use it properly. One very useful feature on most big supplier websites is the ability to set up a catalogue of the bits you buy in most often, which makes it much quicker and less error prone.
Just downloaded and installed Ecofont ( Ecofont | Take a look at the Ecofont )
Looked a bit shady on the screen, but the printed result I can hardly tell the difference.
They claim it can save up to 20% ink.
Gonna test it for a while
We've had Paint.Net installed here a while - nobody uses it so that's annoying me. People want to use Adobe Photoshop and because we only have 20 licenses this is a bit of a pain.
Music are really good for using Open Source software and are constantly requesting different bits and pieces.
And I think the area (not yet discussed) is what benefits will an upgrade bring, weighing up usefulness against cost. This could apply to hardware and software.
Ecofont is good if you have MS Office 2007, otherwise it messes alot of stuff up. Plus it saves only around 5% on the printing at font size 12 and below, otherwise it just uses the same amount of toner/ink.
Last edited by nephilim; 18th December 2008 at 12:05 PM.
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