Friday, March 18, 2011

Local School Funding

Many people aren’t aware of how local schools are funded and I would like to help shed a little light on this situation. I firmly believe that communication is vital and everyone knowing the fact can only help any situation. The state and federal funding of schools is a very complicated process and varies depending on the part of the country or state your school system is located This article will focus on the individual schools (specifically Ardmore High School) and how they secure and distribute their funds. These tough economic times cause every budget to be strained and the individual local schools are no exception. We will be asking for more help than before and people need, and deserve, to know the facts about school finances.

In years past the local schools received state and local funding to purchase items needed for daily operations. The schools got money specifically targeted for technology, professional development, janitorial supplies, instructional supply money, and common purchase money to be used for paper. In addition to this money the district was able to purchase certain items for the local school as needed. Years ago this would include desks, chairs for computer labs, computers, and other supplies schools need in order to operate. Due to the recent economic downturn the individual local schools in Limestone County do not receive money from the state or the district for these items.

Of course payroll, electric bill, and the “big ticket” items are still paid for by the district, but money for day to day purchases is no longer available. As a result we rely solely on the money we are able to raise through fundraising and things like pictures and vending machines. For example, we spent a great deal of money each year on janitorial supplies for items such as toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, lawn mower repair, and many other items. Although we were very fortunate this year to have a lot of paper donated by the employer of one of our parents, as a general rule we must buy all of the paper we use for copying machines.

In addition to items previously mentioned we also must replace our technology when it breaks down. In the past the district was able to help with this, but now their funds have been cut so much for the most part they are no longer able to help. For example, one bulb in some of our projectors start at $200 and some bulbs are even more expensive. When these bulbs go out we must purchase them and since we have projectors in every classroom and are tying to use them more often to cut down on paper costs it is vital for these bulbs to be replaced. Of course computers are like any other device in that they only work for a certain number of years. In previous years the district was able to help replace these items, but now this is largely the responsibility of the local school.

Many people think that sports programs cost the district a large amount of money, but our sports support themselves through gate receipts and fundraisers. The district pays the cost of coaching supplements, but in terms of day to day expenses the responsibility is left to the local schools. Each sport at Ardmore has its own account and must use this account to purchase the items needed for their sport. In addition to obvious items the sports purchase, the utility bills for their respective fields and concession stands must also be purchased from their account. Without the help of parents, booster organizations, and the local community the sports programs would not have the facilities we currently are blessed to have on our campus.

The Limestone County School Board and central office has done an incredible job of being visionary and cutting back before other systems saw the need to do so, and this has helped us be in better shape than many systems across the state of Alabama and the country. This is a very difficult time for us all but we will weather this storm as we have others, and the quality of education your students receive will continue to be exemplary. The continued support from the town of Ardmore and the surrounding communities will be vital to our success as a school. Thank you for all of your support and we know that working together we will become stronger.

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