Every year I receive e-mails from our art teachers about their budget. In our district, the budgets are distributed to each school and the administration decides how much to allocate to each grade level and subject area. In some of our schools, the administration asks the teachers to provide a list of things they need and then they decide if they can afford what is on the list. In other schools, the administration gives an allocated amount of money to use. In our middle schools and high schools, fees may be charged for any item that becomes the student’s property and the rest of the supplies need to be ordered through school funds.
Many years ago we used to have a “per pupil” allocation, but that is no longer the case. My general rule of thumb is that if you are getting around $2 per child or more at the elementary level, you are in good shape. Most of our elementary schools have around 500 students (on average) so this would be around a $1,000 budget. Certain classes at the middle school and high school have higher supply costs. Darkroom Photography and Ceramics are probably two of the most expensive classes to run.
The teachers I hear from are the ones that get $200 to spend for the entire year. I always encourage teachers to go and talk to their administration and explain that $200 is barely enough to cover the supplies needed to teach one unit in our curriculum. Recently, one of our teachers created a chart that can be used to show administrators what is spent on each unit. (See Sarah Neubold’s Advocating for Resources Blog, November 2012)
Conversely, in a nearby county, the curriculum coordinator in central office distributes all the money allocations out to every teacher. This way, all schools receive the same amount of money. But, if our district went to a similar method, we may be cutting some budgets to equal out others. So my question to you is, What do you think is the appropriate amount to spend per pupil? How is your budget decided/distributed and what are the pros and cons of that system?
Art Content Specialist
Montgomery County Public Schools