Guest Post Written By: Michele Timmons
Growing up in an industrial Italian community along the Ohio River, my family talked about Myfundsalow Disease – also known as My Funds are Low. (We also grew up talking about Dunlap’s Disease -my belly dun lap over my belt- but that’s a topic for another day!) Friends who work with urban kids also refer to it as “more month than money”. In other words, we’re broke! This is a huge concern in most schools. Many districts are in fiscal watch and some are in such bad shape that the state has sent in staff to cut budgets and manage dollars. Economic experts confuse the issue with their talk of improvement and continued strife, often based upon their personal political viewpoints. The bottom line is, most schools have made significant budget cuts and ultimately those cuts impact resources available to teachers for classroom instruction.
Teachers and principals are caught in the crossfire. They are ultimately responsible to provide high quality, 21st century education for all kids with fewer dollars. Most teachers have already figured out whining, moaning and complaining won’t bring back the dollars. Instead, they are looking for ways to stretch their dollars or access additional funding to support their programs.
Here are three tips to help you combat Myfundsalow Disease in your school:
Going green. Summit Road STEM Elementary School in Reynoldsburg OH has a storage closet dedicated to recycled materials they can use for classroom projects. Teachers and the PTO work together to identify materials that will be needed in the near future and then communicate the need to parents, community partners and students. This is a great way to practice what they preach and reduce costs. If you aren’t sure how to do inquiry-based learning using every day materials, check out Engineering is Elementary. While it is an elementary focused program, many of the ideas can be adapted to upper grades.
Grants. Most teachers don’t realize there are thousands of grants available to support education. Many of them are small grants ($100-$500) targeted to help teachers and students raise funds for specific classroom projects. For instance, Target LOVES to fund field trips! In fact, August 1st is when this year’s competition begins. National Council on Teachers of Mathematics funds professional development for math teachers – up to $3,000. Here are some of my favorite resources for finding grant opportunities.
- Grants4Teachers: State by state listing of grant opportunities and tons of teacher focused resources and lesson plans.
- EDWorksPartners Facebook: “Like” EDWorks on Facebook and access over 30 grant opportunities currently available to schools, teachers and communities.
- Fundsnetservices: Hundreds of grant opportunities on this site.
Offset Out of Pocket Costs. Sometimes there is just no other way to access necessary resources and teachers have to spend their own money. Did you know you could get up to $250 annual tax deduction? About.com has a great blog called Tax Deductions Tips For The Classroom Teacher that gives tips on how to ensure you can access this tax deduction opportunity. It doesn’t take a lot of work, but it does take a little organization.
@TimmonsMichele: If you are into Twitter, follow me. I tweet a new grant every day.
ED News Daily would love to hear your strategies for combating Myfundsalow in your school.
Mrs. Michele Timmons is a career educator with over 20 year experience. Michele has a master’s degree in educational administration and a bachelor’s degree in secondary education both from The Ohio State University. She has a vast array of experience at all levels of education including teacher, administrator, special education director, charter school founder and director, Educational Service Center Director and is currently EDWorks Manager of Partnership Development. In this capacity she reaches out to schools, districts and charter school founders to help them learn about EDWorks services and to develop and sustain collaborations with industry and non-profit partners will benefit EDWorks partner schools. Michele is also a blogger for ParentFurther.com an online resource providing practical, everyday parenting tips and helpful advice for difficult situations.
Michele Timmons led Muskingum Valley Educational Service Center’s Care Team Collaborative from 2004-2011. Timmons and her staff supported 51 schools in 6 Ohio counties (11 public school districts, 2 Career & Technology Centers and 4 charter schools) in their efforts to improve academic achievement by building Comprehensive Systems of Learning Supports to address both the academic and non academic needs of all children. Under her direction, Care Team Collaborative received numerous awards and recognitions including being registered as an effective practice by Ohio Mental Health Network for School Success and Ohio Public Charter School Association’s National Best Cooperative Practices: Charter and Traditional Public Schools Program.
Michele Timmons was co- founder and first Executive Director of Foxfire Center for Student Success, a drop-out recovery conversion charter high school. During Mrs. Timmons’ tenure at Foxfire (2002-2007) the school’s graduation rate rose from 69% to over 90%. Foxfire’s design and strong focus on achievement created by Mrs. Timmons and her staff led to Foxfire being identified by the US Department of Education as a Model Dropout Recovery School in 2009.