Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

By Charles K. Trainor

The economic crisis has resulted in a wave of reduced funding sources for school districts around the country. As state and city budgets have been slashed, the consequences for districts are dire. However, despite reducing staff and eliminating programs, you are still struggling to make ends meet.

In addition to budget gaps, significant shifts in demographics are also placing strains on your resources. Many districts are experiencing an influx of private school students as family budgets have deteriorated and can no longer support out-of-pocket tuition expenses.

In other districts, the dilemmas are different. Small businesses and corporations have cut staff or closed plants and stores completely in an effort to lower expenses and survive. Long-term unemployment is forcing families to relocate to other communities to find employment. School districts face declining numbers of students. These changes in enrollment and migration patterns make predicting student enrollment more difficult than usual.

So, while some communities are experiencing an exodus of jobs, other communities must deal with an influx of new residents. These shifting conditions cause a mismatch of resources. Districts coping with shrinking enrollment are left with vacant buildings and hundreds of thousands of dollars tied up in desks, chairs, office equipment, computers, and textbooks that may eventually find their way to the local dump.

At the same time, districts in growing communities struggle to accommodate an enrollment expansion with limited funding, facilities, and equipment. New transfer students intensify an already difficult situation for schools at which budget cuts have limited the purchase of equipment and layoffs have increased class sizes. Administrators may be forced to purchase and equip temporary classrooms while they plan construction for new permanent structures.

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