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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continues its slow crawl out of the recession, school districts that had put off capital purchases are now replacing outdated equipment and buying new technology.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.

From treating sprained ankles to administering daily medication to checking asthmatic children, school nurses are handling more cases of student illnesses now more than ever. They are also being stretched to cover more ground in a  district, and work harder given recent budget cuts.

It’s 7:30 on a Monday morning at Bethany Elementary School in Beaverton, Ore., and Nina Fekaris is crouching on the playground, busily picking up peanut shells left from a weekend community party. Fekaris, a nurse for over 20 years in the Beaverton School District, checks her list of students with peanut allergies to make sure they are kept inside the school building and out of harm’s way until all of the shells are picked up.

Districts around the country are facing a growing trend of children attending school without vaccinations for contagious diseases such as measles, chicken pox, rubella, hepatitis A and B, and whooping cough.

In a 2012 study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that almost 5 percent of kindergarten students around the country were not fully vaccinated. Colorado had the lowest rate of vaccinations nationwide, which was 87 percent.

Administrators budgeting for construction have the tools and access to ensure their buildings’ shells—the roofs, windows and insulation—are energy-efficient and easy to maintain. There are many issues to consider—here are some guidelines.

Steve Green, maintenance supervisor at the New Albany-Floyd Consolidated School Corporation in Indiana, reviews a Grainger catalog looking for products to purchase online.

When Boles ISD needed a new science building in 2011 for its rapidly growing high school in rural Quinlan, Texas, district leaders realized they couldn’t afford to build the lab they wanted. Although the district, 35 miles east of Dallas, received a $410,000 grant from the Texas Education Agency, it wasn’t enough to build the project according to architects’ plans.

While co-op contracts save significant staff time, districts must still select contracts and manage interaction with vendors. In rural district Boles ISD, Superintendent Graham Sweeney manages vendor selection and purchasing. But in larger districts, multiple levels of personnel get involved.

A synthetic field at Asbury Park High School at Asbury Park Public Schools in New Jersey, by FieldTurf, is one of various fields that needs regular maintenance and care.

Installing a synthetic-surface athletic field can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Any school district that invests in one and then treats it as a maintenance-free luxury may end up spending a lot more money on repairs and replacements.

There are few universal answers to maintaining natural-grass athletic fields. The specifics and the costs vary widely based on region, altitude, frequency of use and the type of grass under the cleats.

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