I teach in a Title 1 school which means that over 50% of our student population is on free and reduced lunch. I think last year we were at 54% and I'm guessing this year it will be even higher. What this means is that we have a lot of Federal money sent our way to help our at-risk population.
Over the past three years this money has helped pay for things that have benefited our students. Hiring aides to work with our at-risk kids has been one of our expenditures that have seen real results. Another one has been the Reading 180 program that has moved kids up 2-3 grade levels in reading within a year. These have been the major expenditures.
Some of the minor expenditures were something as simple as extra copies. Mrs. Eagle, Mrs. Robin and I got permission to go over our allotted copy budget to make individual copies of our tests. Now this may not seem like a real important thing to spend money on, but one of the things we really focused on last year was teaching kids good test-taking skills, and to make our tests more like the Very Big Deal Government Mandated Tests. This was something that Mrs. Standard, our Science Consulting Teacher from The District, had wanted us to do as it allowed kids to mark up the tests, cross out obviously wrong answers, make notes on the edges, highlight things and so forth and so on. Granted, it took longer to grade as I graded it by hand but it gave me a better idea of their thinking, and allowed the kid to see where the mistakes were. A bubble sheet doesn't quite do it. And, since we only get 3,000 copies a month, we got permission to use Title money to supplement our copies.
And we had the highest test scores in the school, so maybe there was something to it. I don't know.
So last week we get an email from The Principal, who had a meeting with her boss, and the long and short of it is that the Feds have decreased a lot of the funding to this program, and money we were expecting isn't coming. In fact, everything is frozen. Not just Title 1 stuff, but everything.
Frozen freaking solid.
So, when Mrs. Eagle and I wanted to give our health class kids a "fun food Friday", where we taught them how to make easy healthy snacks, we found out we had to pay for it ourselves. Which we did. (And weirdly, not one of them whined or complained about eating carrots, red peppers, celery and zucchini as a snack.)
The bulk of our science labs where we use up a lot of consumables are at the beginning of the year, according to our pacing guide. And until something shakes loose, we may just have to pay for the supplies ourselves.
And don't even ask about copies. The way things are going now, we'll be lucky to get 2,000 a month this year.