What the School’s Budget Means to WJ

Jemile Safaraliyeva, Staff Writer/Copy Editor

 Imagine that the antique copy machine that has been situated in the College & Career Center for longer than any of us have been around suddenly breaks. Not only do the students who depend on this copy machine have an additional stress, but the school must now find the resources to replace it. 

Every school-year, the Board of Education releases an operating budget summary for a 12-month period, called the fiscal year. This document is nearly 400 pages long and contains financial tables, resource pages and organizational charts that reflect the funds and positions appropriated by the County Council in May. The budget for each school varies year-to-year due to economic status, savings and federal aid.

Towards the end of every school year, resource teachers, or department heads, at WJ create a budget which they deem suitable based on the instructional materials they need to operate the classes taught in their subject. These requests are taken into account by the administration and business manager Kathy Cosgrove, as she is a key figure in all school financial and budget decisions.

“In May, we have every department head in the school create a budget,” said Cosgrove. “They meet with their teachers [and] they decide what they need to make their classes run. They [decide] which textbooks they need to replace and update, and then they submit that budget to me.”

Normally, at the beginning of each school year, the county allocates $92.70 per student for instructional materials, and $35.03 per student for textbooks. The amounts allocated per student are constant within the county, but the amount of money schools receive varies depending on the size of each school’s student body.

According to Cosgrove, due to the current economic status this year, not all of the amounts submitted by the department heads were approved. This was a result of budget cuts made by the county, and the general economic recession.

“If [budget requests] are under our allocated amount, we approve everyone for all the materials needed,” said Cosgrove. “This year because of the economy, we have less money than we had last year. We had to cut back on some of the textbook requests.”

While it may seem that some schools within the county receive more money than others, there are numerous factors that separate the distribution of funds between schools. Due to the lengthy construction, the county granted WJ a Furniture & Equipment account which is comprised of a $2 million budget and is used for materials, furniture, equipment and anything the administration deems a necessary without drawing from instructional funds.

“It comes from the county as a part of the capital budget made years ago when they first started working on the school,” said Cosgrove. “After construction ends we have a year-and-a-half to spend it.”

Only schools undergoing large modernizations are granted this account. WJ uses the money on anything from desks to pencil sharpeners, including the Promethean boards. While the county distributes a few boards per school, the F&E account has allowed WJ to buy enough Promethean boards for each classroom.

“We thought it would be better if every teacher had one. Because teachers work as teams, teachers without boards wouldn’t be able to team plan,” said Cosgrove.

The F & E account is still in use and will be available until the funds run out, giving WJ the leisure of purchasing necessary equipment.

“We were fortunate that we could use our F & E money to give everybody a Promethean board,” said Cosgrove.