Effective Practices : Classroom Supplies


Classroom Supplies
Pedagogical Operations Section 5

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1. Does your school have a single person who is responsible for the ordering of all classroom supplies? Who carries this responsibility and how/why was this person identified as being the right person to handle this responsibility? If the task is handled by more than one person, describe how the duties are broken up.
2. Describe the manner in which your classroom supply budget is established and tracked, and the manner in which the school ensures that students have needed supplies while also ensuring proper expense control. Is the person who does the ordering the person who is responsible for the classroom supply budget?
3. Does your school have any separate departmental budgeting for supplies?
4. What is your school’s philosophy with regard to establishing and monitoring classroom supply expenditures?
5. What works particularly well with regard to your budgeting and ordering of classroom supplies?
6. If there were something you could change with regard to your school’s budgeting, ordering and management of classroom supplies, what would it be and why?

PED 5-1

Does your school have a single person who is responsible for the ordering of all classroom supplies? Who carries this responsibility and how/why was this person identified as being the right person to handle this responsibility? If the task is handled by more than one person, describe how the duties are broken up.
Every Waldorf school studied reported that they have just one person who is responsible for the ordering of all classroom supplies. Responsibility is assigned in a variety of ways. At one school the person who places all the orders for the school store also handles ordering of pedagogical supplies. In another school it is a member of the business office staff who handles this responsibility. Yet another school reported that the ordering of supplies is handled by a teacher in lieu of other committee work.

Often times this individual is responsible for ordering both classroom supplies and other general supplies for the school and office as a whole. Things like tape, folders, binders and staples are ordered by this person. Very specialized equipment such as forms, toner, and checks in the office and lab equipment for the sciences may be ordered by the user (chemistry teacher or business manager) rather than the supply coordinator.

PED 5-2

Describe the manner in which your classroom supply budget is established and tracked, and the manner in which the school ensures that students have needed supplies while also ensuring proper expense control. Is the person who does the ordering the person who is responsible for the classroom supply budget?

Various means of budgeting and tracking supply expenses are employed in Waldorf schools. One school described its process this way:

The business manager sees what was spent in prior years and uses that to set an initial budget. Next a refining process is done by the various departments, and the business manager is advised of any anticipated increases and decreases. Budgets are established in many categories including general supplies that can be used by all teachers and departmental supplies as well (music, eurythmy, English and math). Each class teacher is also given a discretionary fund that he or she may use in any way necessary for specialized projects for the class.

The school names one individual as the responsible party for each expense category, and all invoices that are charged to a person’s expense line must receive that individual’s approval before it is posted. The school has a widely decentralized approach to expense control, with each person being given authority to spend responsibly within his or her own area.

One school reported using a new approach to classroom supplies:

Every teacher is given a budget for his or her supplies. Each teacher defines what supplies are needed for the class and then gives a list of those supplies to the supply coordinator. The teacher has the responsibility for staying within the budget established for the class. As this is a new program we are still trying to figure out the exact amount that is needed by grade. In the past we just had a central supply cabinet for everyone to use. There was no detailed inventory kept of available supplies, nor did teachers have a sense of personal accountability for what was ordered or used.

PED 5-3

Does your school have any separate departmental budgeting for supplies?
Each Waldorf school studied reported that it establishes supply budgets for each special subject class such as games, eurythmy, foreign language, and so on. Typically high school subject classes are broken out separately from lower school expenses by department. Some schools also set up separate general supply budgets by class (tape, folders, etc.) while others report treating these items as a whole school expense.

PED 5-4

What is your school’s philosophy with regard to establishing and monitoring classroom supply expenditures?
Each teacher is responsible for his or her own budget, with the business manager furnishing updates and oversight to the faculty chair.

Our approach to the ordering and budgeting of classroom supplies is to focus on the personal accountability of the teacher as the person who is actually using the supplies.

The school has seen the pendulum swing from a poverty mentality in which teachers chose to do without necessary supplies to one of excess when orders were placed for anything the teachers imagined they might need. We are now operating in an environment in which the teachers are able to balance fiscal responsibility with the ability to get what they reasonably need to offer a quality course of instruction.

The school believes that expenses are well controlled when those people closest to the area are the ones who monitor expense performance. Regular performance reporting makes it possible to easily identify areas where spending is out of line and for adjustments to be made on a timely basis. For the most part teachers are very responsible, use their funds well, and don’t take advantage of the school’s checkbook.

PED 5-5

What works particularly well with regard to your budgeting and ordering of classroom supplies?
Bulk ordering is done whenever possible. Having one person who places all orders allows them to be consolidated as much as possible so that costs are kept low. We even consolidate our classroom supply orders with those placed by the school store, ensuring lower costs for everyone.

Good relationships with our various vendors allow us to set up payment terms and discount arrangements prior to the placing of orders.

When it’s time for teachers to prepare their supply requests for the coming year each one is provided with a copy of what they ordered for the current year and also what the teacher for their upcoming grade ordered the prior year.

Each teacher is responsible for his or her own budget, with the business manager furnishing updates and oversight to the faculty chair.

PED 5-6

If there were something you could change with regard to your school’s budgeting, ordering and management of classroom supplies, what would it be and why?
Our processes work quite well, but I question the allocation of supply funds between the early childhood department, the lower school and the high school. The allocation of expense money between the schools needs review.

We could establish a better system for ensuring that we have adequate supplies in the general inventory. It is too late to discover we are low on something when the item is needed.


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