Schools frequently serve as a home away from home for millions of students. Although children regularly spend six or more hours per day inside the classroom and schools are instrumental in shaping the lives of students, many schools are making due with very few resources.
The Center of Budget and Policy Priorities says that, in the United States, education budgets are providing less per-pupil funding for kindergarten through 12th grade than they did just a few years ago. What’s more, local school districts typically have little recourse to replace lost state aid on their own. Similar scenarios are playing out in Canada. Canadian education budgets are being slashed. Many provinces have been forced to re-examine their education budgets and make serious cuts to keep schools operational. Declining enrollment in Ontario could lead to school closures, while in 2014 in Québec, nine of 69 school boards made cuts to specialized staff. These staff members included guidance counselors, speech therapists, psychologists and social workers.
Schools have various needs that must be addressed. Financial donations and/or volunteer work is one way to address those needs. The following is a look at how people can support neighborhood schools and ensure they deliver the best education for local students.
• Shop smartly. A simple way to give back to school is to buy supplies from brands that give a portion of their profits to schools or those that match purchases with donated items. Some of these brands and retailers include Office Max, Target and Levi Strauss. When shopping, purchase extra materials for schools, which are often short on supplies. Many teachers regularly tap into their own money to buy supplies or to help students who are in need.
• Volunteer to help in the classroom. Large classroom sizes can pull teachers in many directions. Volunteering in the classroom a few hours per week can make it easier for teachers to devote their energy to those who need it most and to provide one-on-one attention more frequently.
• Give when you can. Financial donations can help schools offset budget cuts. Donations can be made via one-time contributions or by participating in school-organized fundraisers.
• Volunteer in other ways. Volunteer to lead a committee or to work in the school library. Funding may be cut for specialized programs, so investigate any opportunities to organize activities during school or after school when many kids have nothing to do.
• Make other donations. Check your home for old musical instruments, books, sports equipment, and other items that schools can put to good use. With some ingenuity, people can give back to schools throughout the year.