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Cover for Volume 13: Number 9: Apr, 2018

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Volume 13: Number 9: Apr, 2018

Feature Article: Building Walk: Spending Wisely

By Tweed W. Ross, Ed.D.

The end of the school term often seems to show an uptick in spending as an effort to employ a “use-it-or-lose-it” strategy. This can be very frustrating to principals and may show disrespect for the wise stewardship of tax dollars. Your building walk to address this issue should focus on the fact that this is the taxpayers’ money for the benefit of students. Still, before making a broad pronouncement about “no more spending,” you need to do several things as you travel about your building.


1.    First, be sure about your legal standing relative to different kinds of funds. Depending on state and local regulations, some funds can be carried over to subsequent years. Likely examples of these are transportation, foodservice, activity accounts, and shop and lab supplies. Some funds cannot be carried over. Those that cannot be carried over often include classroom supplies.


2.    Get a grip on the magnitude of the issue. Far and away the largest portion of any district’s expenditures is on salaries, utilities, and debt service. Teachers and principals have little to say about how these might be reallocated in the last months of the school term. The discretionary budget for teaching supplies is a small fraction of overall district expenditures.


3.    As you move about the building, use this opportunity to visit with your staff about their needs. If you see a staff member who has hoarded their allotment of teaching supply money throughout the year in hopes of being able to make a major purchase at the end of the year, you should have a discussion with them about classroom needs. If you see another teacher who has just a few dollars left in their classroom account and wants to buy construction paper to have on hand at the start of the next year, that’s another discussion.



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