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Articles: Budget

Grand View Elementary School in California’s Manhattan Beach USD has cut its trash from 30 bags a day to two, reducing the number of garbage pickups and saving $4,700 a year.

One student generates about five pounds of waste in 180 days from simply drinking a carton of milk each day of the school year, according to the Carton Council, a national industry-sponsored recycling organization. Add in glue bottles, old test papers and leftover lunch, and it’s no wonder schools are looking for ways to reduce both the amount of waste filling trash bins and the money spent to have it hauled away.

Three quarters of respondents to a DA survey said funding for their district would increase or stay the same in 2015. (Click to enlarge graphic)

Navigating turbulent waters of uncertain budgets, district leaders have a great challenge: Answer the growing push for accountability and heightened community expectations in 2015.

Paula Love, the “Funding Doctor,” brings decades of experience to developing grant strategies for state and local educational agencies, schools and institutions.

Are you ready for another year of doing more with less?

This year, let’s flip this funding challenge into an approach that enables your school district to get a share of the shrinking financial resources. A key approach to winning grants is collaboration.

Why collaborate?

Collaboration is not new. We talk about it, we provide workshops on it and we practice it in our schools and classrooms.

Tigerton School District in Wisconsin has only 250 students, and has faced $800,000 in budget cuts over the past three years.

Funding cuts since the recession have drained the accounts of rural districts, which cannot rely on a resurgence in property tax revenues as heavily as urban school systems can.

Some board members of Pasco County Schools discuss their policy revisions From left to right: Kevin Shibley, executive director for administration; Cynthia Armstrong, member; Alison Crumbley, chairwoman; and Joanne Hurley, member.

Some school employees face getting the short end of the stick as district leaders work to comply with new Affordable Care Act requirements while juggling tight budgets.

School staff sending out mail nowadays can save a lot of work with electronic mailcenters.

District mail rooms used to be hectic. Thousands of pieces of mail would cycle in and out every month, and all of it had to be processed by hand. But these days, life is much easier for office administrators who, still, must sort through the pieces of mail.

Paula Love, the “Funding Doctor,” brings decades of experience to developing grant strategies for state and local educational agencies, schools and institutions.

Student achievement, teacher quality, school safety, 21st century teaching and learning—these are but a glimpse into the areas of need each administrator must consider when making school spending decisions. Add to each of these spending decisions the impact of student productivity, and your efficiency and financial anxiety might increase.

Students from Bronzeville Scholastic Institute High School in Chicago use refurbished computers, saving on technology costs for the district.

District CIOs looking to save money on computers are increasingly turning to refurbished technology. Buying preowned equipment puts more devices in the hands of students and keeps old machines out of landfills.

District leaders seeking to acquire more technology must decide whether purchasing or leasing is more cost-effective.

As the economy continues its slow crawl out of the recession, school districts that had put off capital purchases are now replacing outdated equipment and buying new technology. However, administrators are still considering large-scale acquisitions with caution.

Booster club members attend a session presented by the National Booster Club Training Council.

Sports teams in a growing number of school districts can only return to their fields, gymnasiums, rinks and pools each September with the support of parent-run booster clubs. As budgets tighten, these clubs, which have provided high school athletes with everything from uniforms to scoreboards to travel money for competitions or games, are expanding into elementary and middle schools.

Superintendent Joshua Starr of Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland crouches to speak with students in class. He is determined to support student programs during lean budget times.

Five years after the Great Recession officially ended, many superintendents continue to grapple with educating today’s students and preparing for tomorrow’s—with yesterday’s funding levels. The worst recession since the Great Depression lasted from December of 2007 to June of 2009, according to the federal government, and many superintendents are only now starting to glimpse limited financial relief.

The beginning of the school year brings new construction projects in many districts, including Rockford Public Schools in Illinois and North Shore Central School District in New York.

At Rockford Public Schools, a district of 28,000 students in Illinois, all four of the district’s high schools were under heavy construction over the summer that will continue throughout the school year.

Ulrich Boser, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress

School districts that spend more per pupil do not necessarily perform better, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress.

After examining more than 7,000 districts nationwide, researchers found that only 37 percent of the districts in the top third in spending were also in the top third in achievement.

Joplin Public Schools in Missouri opened the doors to the brand new Joplin High School/Franklin Technology Center on Aug. 25.

The original high school, along with a technical school, two elementary schools and a middle school, was destroyed in May 2011 after a tornado devastated the area.

Though physical book collections are shrinking in many districts, the role of librarians or media specialists is expanding.

About one-third of public schools do not have a full-time, state-certified librarian.

Members of the American Library Association call it a national crisis, as colleges and careers increasingly require students to have expansive digital literacy skills. Some 20 percent of public school libraries do not have any full- or part-time state-certified librarians, according to a 2013 report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).