Seven proven ways to save on school budgets

Baker said his district also has reduced printing costs by setting up a wiki “to support paperless data sharing and collaboration for our professional learning communities.”

“To save on printing costs and to avoid purchasing multiple licenses of Adobe Pro, we downloaded Cute PDF Writer and installed that on all of our computers,” said Alma Row, director of data and instructional technology for South Western School District in Pennsylvania. “The next vital step was to make sure our teachers understood the value of printing to PDF rather than to hard-copy print.”

In addition to digitizing announcements, Kent Intermediate School District in Michigan has moved all its course evaluations online and gives completion certificates electronically, said one of the district’s professional development coordinators.

3. Build partnerships and leverage grants.

Rather than spend school funds on items such as classroom books, rugs, furniture, and cameras, Horace Mann Elementary School in Binghamton, N.Y., uses grants from sources such as Teacher Center, DonorsChoose, Dollar General, and Lowe’s, among others, said teacher and librarian MaryAnn Karre.

“Grants might not be an overlooked source, but many [schools] don’t take [full] advantage of them,” said Karre.

For California’s San Diego Unified School District, landing a major grant from the state education department was critical to implementing its “AP Alliance Project,” which aims to increase the participation of low-income and underrepresented students in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs, said Donald Mitchell, director of the AP Incentive Program.

This project, funded for a three-year period, includes six high schools and eight feeder middle schools. Community partnerships also play a huge role in the success of the program, Mitchell said, “by providing academic support, mentoring, internships, job shadowing, counseling, performance rewards, and incentives to both teachers and students. During the first year of our grant, our partners contributed over $700,000 in total value to support our grant efforts.”

For example, grant partners—including universities, colleges, community organizations, and businesses—have offered free college courses, laptop computers, classroom enrichment materials, field trips to local museums, and more. 

Meris Stansbury

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