Sustainable Living: School savings

By Shawn Dell Joyce


We are all concerned about our schools and our rising school taxes. Most districts are facing a decline in state funding of 11% or. in Valley Central’s case; $3.6 million. That’s a lot of money, and we all wonder where it will come from.


Teachers are concerned about larger classes and less funding for teaching materials, salaries, and lower educational standards. Parents are concerned about less funding for the classes that keep kids interested in school, like music, art, sports, and extracurricular activities. Taxpayers are concerned about an ever-increasing burden that is already difficult to bear. Kids face crowded conditions, increased bullying, and less attention from teachers.


It’s a difficult situation for all, without an easy answer. Many school districts across the country are in the same pickle and some have come up with a few creative solutions that could be applied here.


Newburgh has hired an energy efficiency consultant to show faculty and students how to conserve resources and save money. Simple measures like turning off lights in empty classrooms, lowering the heat after hours, and reducing paper waste can more than pay the consultant’s salary, and save school resources over the long term. Engaging the student population in the school’s efforts to conserve, teaches children an important lesson to take back to the home and community.


Batavia schools have found methods for pooling resources and sharing specialized staff and equipment. This sharing cuts down on individual school district’s costs, and helps keep learning standards high.


In Fairfax County, Va., they are asking parents to pay fees for tests like the PSAT, and SAT tests. They are also planning to charge $50 per student to participate in high school sports. The most ingenious suggestion was to raise class size by a half of a student. You have to wonder where they put the other half!


Texas schools find themselves with a decreasing tax base (as property values plummet) and increasing student population. Instead of building more schools, the districts are encouraging home schooling by providing an online curriculum, free computer and internet, and a teacher with an online class size of 500.


Other states also encourage homeschooling by offering homeschooled children the use of the school for certain classes that parents may not be able to provide at home. For example, a high school science lab course would be easier to pay for than to recreate at home. This piecemeal approach to education also brings in additional revenues from homeschoolers already paying school taxes.


California high school students will soon be working from free digital textbooks online rather than the expensive hardcover textbooks at district’s expense.


Perhaps the best approach to solving the school budget crunch is the one right under our noses, and most likely to be missed. Why not have the children come up with the solution? One of the biggest complaints about schools is that they don’t prepare children for the “real world.” Here’s our chance, let’s give the kids a “real world” scenario, and see what they come up with?


Thomas Kerston of the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration has come up with a helpful module that could be applied to any classroom. It’s available free online at


We are quick to give our children the latest in interactive online video games, now how about we give them a quality education in life?


 Shawn Dell Joyce is the director of the Wallkill River School in Orange County.


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One Response to “Sustainable Living: School savings”

  1. Ofelia Hoffpavir Says:

    Awesome! I have been looking for something all day. I really wish that people would write more about this. Greatly appreciated

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