Wanted: Creative Ideas

In a stack of papers called Reform.

  • Mar
  • 23
  • 2010

Anyone out there have some creative ways their district is cutting costs? We’ve got zero creativity and, honestly, never really have. Yesterday was a day for our Sup to come tell us what we already know about the budget and for him to politic during the Q/A session. And I’m not hearing anything interesting about how to solve the problems from the district.

It’s been suggested that we close a school or two, that we eliminate sports altogether, that we actually implement administrative cuts (right now, there are virtually no cuts to administration), that we lose our library technicians (mind you, our libraries have already been closed for two years and the librarians are back in the classrooms), and that we get rid of bookroom clerks. I don’t think the district has weighed in on any of these things. Smiles and nods, that’s about all we’re getting while teachers are being asked for a fourth year without a raise and likely increased numbers in the classrooms again next year.

What’s on the table at your school? Any districts out there getting it right by actually trying to lead this conversation instead of being reactionary? Is Borders hiring?

Today I’m giving my English 3s the EAP timed-writing section. My English 2s are working on an Animal Farm in-class writing. I’ll give you more details on the AF thing soon. There’s some good stuff there and, if nothing else, I’ve always got handouts for you. Plus, it’s all about building a bridge to Lord Of The Flies and how can you not like a connection like that?


1. Meanwhile, I keep dancing says:

[3/23/2010 - 4:33 pm]

My district is super stingy with copying and printing–strict limits for individuals by term; no lights in the pop machines; high fees for activities & sports; etc.

2. Ben says:

[3/27/2010 - 6:46 pm]

Wow, Todd, this sounds horribly depressing man! I would say “get out while you can!”, but I know you’re not that kind of guy, so I can offer what little I have.

In terms of saving money on the technology front, our district did two major things. We dumped Microsoft Office, and replaced it with Open Office. We also are moving to Google Docs and Gmail instead of using Novell for our networking and mail. I know that those two things don’t measure up to much in the grand scheme of things when you’re talking about closing schools, but at least they’re two steps towards the goal of reduction.

Not sure how creative they are either, but here’s one that’s been simmering at the back of my brain for a LONG time. Most school districts have a shining example of some sort of excellent teaching; perhaps it’s a special program that makes other schools jealous, or a crack team of teachers at a middle school, or maybe it’s just some excellent PD people. What is a school district was able to take something that really works well for them, and start offering PD and consulting opportunities to other districts based on their strengths?

If your school has a great math department, perhaps offer math training sessions to neighboring districts, and connect with an educational service agency to offer CEUs. Or start putting on your own mini-conference in the summer, showcasing the best and brightest from your district, and invite others to attend from outside district.

I know it’s not much of an idea, and I hope that you guys find something soon; everyone here in Michigan knows what it’s like to go through the painful cuts :(

3. Todd says:

[3/28/2010 - 9:31 am]

Meanwhile, I know what you mean. We’ve cut back services to the quick and it looks like we’ll keep going. No lights in the soda machines, though!? That’s simply barbaric!

And Ben, some of what you suggested is what we already do. The idea of districts offering PD based on strengths isn’t really an income generator, though. Whenever we offer that kind of stuff, we barely break even. I mean, I’m with you in thinking it’s worthwhile. We need to foster teacher leaders and putting teachers in that kind of position is one way to do that. I just wonder if there’s anyone out there that’s been able to use the idea to bring money in.

A colleague suggested the Open Office thing. It’s funny because we just bought a batch of computers, all of them with MS Office. And so all your school email addresses are @gmail.com instead of @[yourdistrictoffice].org?

But I’m wondering also what’s happening at the schools out there. What cuts are coming for you two? Or are things not that dire where you are?

4. Glen says:

[4/18/2010 - 11:39 am]

We have been cutting costs over the last few years. The district has asked each school to cut back and see what we can do as a faculty before they start the district cuts. We have been cutting down on paper on assignments by using wikipages and transferring documents to the teachers (our fifth grade team with other grades coming on board). We have moved toward a semi-paperless classroom. We do still need to write.

Our district has cut back on funding some programs and changing costly programs to no cost programs. They have been working for a few years to do the studies and get teacher feedback on what we want and need, and what we can do without. We have gone to Gmail and that saved some. We had a free We have basically researched costs and got rid of what we don’t need.

We have had some bad decisions also. A new high school has been built that will not be filled for some time and the boundaries have been drawn so all the high schools in the district are not close to being full. We have had great, good, and bad decisions in this time of cuts.