One for the money

The English department budget is about $3000 a year.  It mostly goes to books and teaching materials that aren’t normally provided by the school and events for students and faculty.  We didn’t spend it all last year, but this year I am hoping to get close to spending it all, on the use-it-or-lose-it principle.  I don’t want to spend it just for the sake of spending, but to use it to make our teaching more effective and our work lives more satisfying.

Here’s some of what we’ve done with our budget so far this year:

  • The veteran sixth-grade teacher, whom I’m about to mention several times and whom I’ll call Emilia, bought Miranda, the new sixth-grade teacher, a classroom startup set of posters, bulletin board decorations, and books.
  • Emilia also bought about $200 worth of new pleasure-reading books for her classroom library.
  • Emilia and Olivia went to the NCTE conference and bought some new classroom materials.  (The conference expenses came out of the general professional development fund, however.)
  • Olivia bought a few posters for her room.
  • We paid the submission fees for students who submitted to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
  • Dorothea and I provided Starbucks drinks and general refreshments for the meeting at which we proofread one another’s report card comments.
  • I usually provide some kind of snacks at department meetings.
  • More food–refreshments to follow the Quill and Scroll induction ceremony.
  • Prizes for a middle school writing contest.
  • Still more food–a department lunch at a restaurant at the end of the first semester.
  • Books for possible course adoption.
  • Expenses related to hiring that are charged to our department budget: candidate lunches and any special room setup (extra chairs for observers–I have been able to avoid that this year).
  • Romola had the idea that we each choose and inscribe a book to give the GGE when he leaves SA at the end of the school year, so I asked for selections and ordered the titles.  They run the gamut–Lucinda picked a cookbook, Dr. Tea chose this, Emilia asked for three titles from this series (I’m noticing that Emilia has spent more than her share of the department’s money this year!), Dorothea this, Sebastian this.

And coming up by the end of the fiscal year in June:

  • Sets of desk copies for our new hire (this was a big expense last year, with three new hires).
  • Emilia and Miranda want a set of classroom copies of the sixth-grade vocabulary book (to the tune of about $850, so a big expense, but worthwhile).
  • Refreshments (again) for a bridal shower for Dorothea.
  • An end-of-year department lunch, during exam week.

I’m going to look at the numbers for the last two years and see if I can make a more definite plan for next year.  I’d like to be able to bring in a visiting writer on the department budget, for example, and it will be easier to plan for if I know what we typically spend on what items.

It’s wonderful to have this money at our disposal.  I know we all spend extra on things like treats for our classes, supplies we don’t bother to get reimbursed for, and books that enrich our teaching but which we perhaps feel don’t rise to the level of being reimbursement-worthy.  Some people are more forthright about asking, which is perhaps another reason to be more methodical about our budget–we spent a lot on sixth grade this year, but almost nothing on eleventh or twelfth–what could we do with our funds that would enrich the experiences of more students?

3 responses to this post.

  1. Do you all use classroom sets of books rather than having students buy their own books? If the latter, publishers should send you desk copies for the new teachers for free! Our department used to buy a lot of books for teachers, and I’ve made it my mission to reduce those costs by getting publisher copies for free.


  2. Posted by meansomething on May 13, 2015 at 4:30 am

    We have students buy their own books, and I made some headway with desk copies this year, but not much–too many books from publishers who weren’t HS-friendly. ( I’m putting this on my list for the end of the year!


  3. […] in classes, finalizing deployment.  I spent a couple of hours ordering desk copies, thanks to encouragement from What Now?, and saved the department $200 or so.  The next few days will be busy but not awful, and then […]


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