By the Ledger: Stretching dollars, equipping students

John Fuller

Because of a decision by the Texas Legislature, Bryan ISD will lose about $5.8 million dollars in state funding for the Fiscal Year 2012. “By the Ledger” is a series of articles that focuses on the impact such budget cuts have had on Bryan High.

Although it may be difficult for some to imagine school without all of the school supplies that they were once accustomed, recent budget cuts have forced administrators and teachers to take another look at what equipment and supplementary supplies they can purchase.

“We have to put on a different thinking hat,” Principal’s Assistant Maria Field said. “Our goal is to serve our students academically, in any way we can. We have to challenge ourselves in how to spend the money in new ways and to see how much smarter we can be about spending the money for the students.”

This year, the organization of materials funds has also changed for school districts, as instead of being allotted a specific number of textbooks, schools are now awarded certain dollar amounts and are allowed to chose which resources to buy.

“My teachers realized that there’s less money to purchase books and we have to utilize what we already have available,” English Department Chair Lisa Prejean said. “This year, we had a grammar book adoption, and to save money, we ordered just class sets, rather than an entire set for the entire school.”

Teachers and administrators have also reduced the amount of printing and copying they use in an effort to save money on paper and ink.

“Because we have a reduced print budget, we do a lot more work out of the book, and students are taking their own notes,” Math Department Chair Jill Morris said.

In addition to basic equipment and supply funding, travel budgets for teacher and administrator training have also been reduced.

“Travel is limited to the things that are immediate concerns, like the EOC (End of Course) exams,” Prejean said.

For Advanced Placement and trainings related to certain programs, the school is able to send teachers because they are reimbursed through other funding sources.

“They have not limited AP or Pre/AP travel because we do get reimbursements from the state,” Prejean said. “They reimburse the fee for the actual workshop, which is usually around $450, so it makes it worth the district’s money.”

Through past efforts and grant monies, the district has built up a large technology program, which administrators say they are taking advantage of to cut down on the amount of physical supplies that must be purchased.

Many of the student rewards, for achievements like good grades, that were previously paid for with the equipment budget, have also been cut in order to devote more resources to materials that are necessary for the classroom.

“We think more about how the money can be spent for the curriculum,” Field said. “It’s basically cutting off the fat and giving students the meat.“