One time funding and how it’s being spent

As the deadline for submitting proposals for the one time funding draws to a close a number of differnt approaches to spending are emerging. Many of the various parents that I have spoken with have assumed a collective or big picture approach to the spending of this money. That is, identify clear school community needs and gaps in resources and pool funds to meet those needs. A variant of this approach has been to look to the various teacher ‘wish lists’ that PACs recieve all the time and to try and use those to guide the spending plans.

A different approach has emerged that takes a very different tack. This appraoch rationalizes the spending plan by highlighting the fact that the funds have been made possible in this particular context via the lost wages of teachers and other unionized support workers during the October Strike of 2005. At University Hill Secondary, for example, the teachers met last Wed with the school principal and proposed that the funds should be allocated to each teacher to spend based upon the FTE (Full Time Equivilent) of their particular job. This works aout to about 1400 per teacher with a full time contract.

Here’s a quote from the School Principal’s note to the parent community explaining the decision and reason:
Teachers met today at lunch to discuss how to spend the Ministry money discussed in previous e-bulletins. We began by brainstorming items that teachers wished to purchase – they included: Atlases, dictionaries, musical instruments, text books – French, Skills, Geography, PE equipment, maps, field trip subsidies, microscopes for science, lighting equipment for theatre, ESL grammar workbooks, computers.

It soon became apparent that we had more wishes than money and the thought of coming to agreement as to who should be the “lucky ones” that get the money would be difficult, if not impossible, to determine especially given the tight time line that we were working under.

We then acknowledged that the source of this money was from teachers’ lost wages during the job action and based on that, the teachers agreed that every teacher should have some access to at least a portion of the money. We decided we would like to spend the money in the following manner:
$11,625 will go to the library to upgrade technology.
$39,287 will be divided amongst the staff equitably and each teacher either on their own or by pooling their money as a department, will decide how to spend their portion. Given the unique nature of the origin and dispersal of this money, I feel that the staff has come up with an equitable and creative way to spend it.

Parents also met tonight to discuss the spending of this money. We had a lively discussion about addressing the needs of the “big picture” as well as addressing the needs of individual teachers. Several parents voiced particular support for field trips and science resources and also supplementing this money with PAC money for text books if needed. Two students (from SPC) were also at the meeting and contributed support and opinions. A motion was passed to support the teachers’ spending plan proposal.

Here’s a slightly different approach:

A PAC parent from an interior school district reports attending “an elementary planning meeting in their community with staff (all K-7 grade levels were represented), PAC parents, SPC parents, and school admin … wish lists had been compiled and existing school resources had been inventoried … needs were brought to attention using this data and group discussion … subject topics (math, science, socials, etc) were posted around the room … all participants were given 3 stickers to choose priority focus areas … the stickers were placed and tallied to determine top 3 focus areas … the participants were then given 3 more stickers and a directive to be specific (ex: science became gr 7 texts/resources etc) … following 2nd round of sticker placement and tallies the top 3 priority focus areas were crystal clear and consensus for spending was determined … the one-time funding will be added to school’s existing learning resource budget and PAC will likely round up the funding to attain targets … the entire process was informative, consultative, and productive …

Putting spending plans together to meet the MoE application deadline isn’t the biggest issue (even though more planning time would have been appreciated) … with orders pending from public schools all over BC many partners have more serious concerns that publishers/suppliers can deliver/invoice all texts/resources before the MoE spending deadline at the end of March … “

A Third Example:

Dear Members of our Kitsilano Community,

I believe the above quotes demonstrate the attitude and effort with which the Kitsilano staff, committees and PAC had last week on return from our holidays. It is only with a “can do” and positive attitudes that we were able to consult widely within departments and committees to thoughtfully spend the funds allocated to us by the Ministry of Education saved by the teacher job action last October. Thank you for your involvement with the Kitsilano PAC concerning your thoughts on spending this funding.

In spite of the timeline being so short, collectively, we made solid, equitable decisions that will benefit all students and teachers. In brief, all departments will be allocated their requests in full with the exception of the Information Technology Department which still benefited by the generosity of other departments by almost $24,000.00. The Finance Committee will work to ensure that there is an additional $6,000.00 to refurbish Lab 320 to give IT the $30,000.00 needed and ensure that other labs and teachers desktops benefit from this grant as well.

Since my last e-bulletin, Kits was allocated a further $21,210.00 for the library ($9,000 for computer upgrade and the remainder for print material) and $37,000.00 for learning resources such as textbooks, novels, maps, DVD’s, videos, etc. We have overspent in this area by approximately $5,000.00 which will come from the school earning resources, but we have also spent approximately $10,000.00 of the one-time grant of $68,950.00 on learning resources and the remainder is to update in classroom technology such as LCD’s, DVD, VCR, TV monitors. There is no doubt that this infusion of funds will benefit the learning and teaching environment of our students and teachers.

It would be interesting to learn how other schools and districts are deciding on their spending plan. What are the underlying principles that are being used to generate the spending plans?

Of course, the real problem of ongoing and appropriate funds is completely overlooked by this rush to spend approach that the Ministry of Educaiton has unleashed. Through out the process that I have been part of in Vancovuer I remain impressed by the civility and fair mindedness of parents, administrators and teachers involved in putting these plans into effect in a very very limited timeframe.

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