Stretch-Your-BudgetHave you ever wondered how your district is going to purchase all the new instructional materials your students need?  With the Association of American Publishers noting a four percent decline of instructional materials purchases in 1Q of 2014, school budgets continue to be under close scrutiny to maximize the ROI for education. Some states, like Texas, Florida and South Carolina, provide discrete funding for instructional materials. Most others expect districts to use general formula funding to purchase instructional materials.  All states expect school districts to use local funds to fill in the gaps.

But, if those funding streams aren’t sufficient to cover the costs of all the new instructional materials your students need, we need to think creatively. Here are five strategies to help you stretch your dollars so that you can afford the instructional materials your students need:

(1)    Get the most from the instructional materials you have purchased:  Make sure your teachers know how to fully implement the materials your district has purchased so that they do not purchase additional materials with redundant functionalities.

(2)    Align the materials you have to new state standards for the same grade and subject and then fill-in-the-gaps with supplemental products or high-quality open-education resources. Learning List can help!

(3)    Align your materials for one subject to the standards for another subject – then fill-in-the-gaps with supplemental or high quality open-education resources.  Learning List can help!

(4)    Buy/Sell surplus.  If districts have physical ownership over instructional materials under your state’s law, sell them if your district is not or will not be using them in the foreseeable future. Check whether your state’s laws prescribe when and how districts in your state may sell surplus instructional materials.

(5)    Use Federal funds.  Federal  funds may be used to purchase instructional materials for select students or for the general student population . Some of those funding sources include:

Title I, which allows funding to ensure “… that high-quality academic assessments, accountability systems, teacher preparation and training, curriculum, and instructional materials are aligned with challenging State academic standards so that students, teachers, parents, and administrators can measure progress against common expectations for student academic achievement….” and

Title II, which provides funds to: “(1) increase student academic achievement through strategies such as improving teacher and principal quality and increasing the number of highly qualified teachers in the classroom and highly qualified principals and assistant principals in schools; and (2) hold local educational agencies and schools accountable for improvements in student academic achievement.”

You can use one or all of the above strategies to stretch your fund$ to optimize the ROI for your instructional materials budget. We welcome you to share other strategies that have worked for your leadership team.

ISTE Update: JOIN Learning List for an ISTE RECEPTION on Sunday, June 29th at 5:30 PM. RSVP Here.