Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hey Brother Can You Spare Some Copies?

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.



HappyChyck said...

Sister, don't I know! Our Title 1 funding is taking a hit, too. Another source of funds and programs for at-risks school in our state has pulled out of our school because of their program cuts. Good buy instructional aides and after school tutoring programs. And...our state politicians are bad at math. Education, among other things, is taking a major hit for the deficit problems our state has. None of us really know how bad it's going to be this year, but we already no that the days of ask-and-you-shall-receive are gone. What else will be gone? Supplies? Smaller classroom sizes? Textbooks? Yep, yep, and yep.

musicwms said...

Wow! 3,000 copies a month! I get 3,000 copies a year. Now of course we can use the Gestetner (one step above the old Ditto machine) for 25 copies or more. Of course that is provided it works, isn't jammed, isn't out of ink, and there aren't 9 people in line for it. Oh yeah, and I haven't used up my one box of allotted paper.

A piece of software ($--but well worth the price) that has saved my copies and paper is FinePrint (http://www.fineprint.com/index.html). It allows you to print up to 8 pages on one sheet and double-sided too. Even if you just print 2 pages on one you have saved by half.

I do feel your pain about supplies too. I teach in a 100% Title I school. I also teach band and orchestra. We provide instruments, supplies, books and music to almost all of our kids. I try to charge a minimal amount to the students for reeds, but most often I just end up giving supplies to them because they can't or won't pay. I end up personally buying a lot of reeds and strings because using my miniscule budget money to purchase anything is at minimum a week long process. And when kids don't have a reed or string for their instrument, they're not playing and learning in my class. And we won't even talk about repairs.

So, let me get my tin cup and save me a spot on that corner 'cause I'm right there with ya!

Margaret English said...

No other set of workers in the world, in my opinion, spends as much money out of their own pockets as teachers do- and we are forced in to it by ridiculous budgets and budget cuts such as that mentioned in your post.

Whenever the economy is in a rough way, which seems to be pretty much all the bloody time these days, the politicians automatically start to cut funding in education. It is disgraceful.

The Vegas Art Guy said...

Go hit up companies like Xerox and their competition, maybe they can help you out with the copies.

ellen said...

I wandered in here from ???? I have loved reading many of your entries. I am retired from many years of teaching...everything from kindergarten to fifth grade in four different regions of the country.
Oh, the memories you bring back about teaching...so many.
Thanks! I can tell that you are a special person who contributes to your school and especially to your students. I hope that you have a wonderful year. Use all of that "free" time wisely. Jeesh! free time, what is that?

Melissa B. said...

We go back to school Monday, and I can't wait for the news on what we're cutting this year. I'm a great believer in each kid having his own test to mark on, especially the multiple choice tests, so I feel your pain. I know it's a great out-of-pocket expenditure, but if you pay for your own copies, they're tax deductible. Also, if you know anyone who works for a corporation near you, they might be willing to run your copies for you.

Ms. Teach said...

Your blog inspired me, Bluebird. I'm attempting my own to chronicle the ups and downs in our third grade classroom. I haven’t become as consistent as you are yet, but I think I just might have some interesting things to blog about. Quite the crew this year! http://anothercrazyclassroom.blogspot.com/.