Paying for pencils: Supplies funded by department budgets

Oren Minsk, Assistant In-Depth Editor

Towards the end of the summer, CESJDS students head to the store for pencils, highlighters and notebooks, but they’re not the only ones. JDS departments are also stocking up on materials for the year, but with what money? 

Each year, all JDS departments are allotted a certain amount of money from the school’s overall annual budget in order to fulfill the needs of the department. Over the summer, the budget for each department is decided by administration. When making this decision, the administration refers to the budget and expenditures of each department in the previous year. 

“Each department or the department chair will assess what their needs are for the coming year,” High School Principal and Associate Head of School Marc Lindner said. “If it is fairly consistent with what has been spent in the previous year, it will usually won’t be a big conversation.”

Alterations in the yearly budget are generally due to a change in needs and required resources for the department. For example, if teachers were developing a new curriculum over the summer, they might receive an additional stipend from their department’s budget. For the most part, the budgets don’t change substantially, but each year, the administration evaluates significant deviations from past year. If significant changes are needed, the administration will talk it over before finalizing it. 

Departments often use this money for materials specific to their department. Namely, the math department may spend money on calculators and rulers, while the science department uses its funds on lab materials. Each department has different needs and uses a differing amount of supplies, so the budgets for each vary as well.

“That might be resources, that might be supplies, that might in some cases be additional professional development opportunities,” Dean of Academics Aileen Goldstein said. “It’s important that each department has at least some discretion in terms of making sure that they need to support their discipline.” 

Math Department Chair and teacher Reuben Silberman said that the math department buys new materials every year such as whiteboard markers, which do not last long, but they reuse long-lasting items such as calculators. He said that it is rare for teachers to buy their own materials without the intent of being reimbursed by the department.

“For the most part, if there is something that there is a legitimate need for, the department would buy it,” Silberman said. “If it was something a little more fun, the teacher would buy it.” 

If a teacher or the department wants to buy supplies or items for the department, there are two systems that they can utilize. First, the department can buy materials or other things to suit their needs using the school’s credit card and the money will be taken out of the department’s budget. Second, a member of the department can spend the money themselves and then request a reimbursement from the school, which would also be taken out of the department’s budget.

According to Silberman, the math department also spends some of its money on professional development, such as sending teachers to conferences, but usually it is paid for by the administration. He says that the budget is sufficient to last the entire year and that there is normally a small amount of leftover money. 

“If there is money left over, it is not that it necessarily goes anywhere; that may remain within the schools’ overall budget and could be rolled over to the coming school year,” Lindner said. “It’s not that common that there is going to be a tremendous amount of money left over. It seems to me that the departments have been pretty good at forecasting what they’re going to need.”