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I knew I had it good, budget-wise, but your message tells me _how_ good!
The first thing you need to do is let your administration see what your
curriculum is like, and how much of the supplies you're using are
consumable. Granted, some things, like brushes, will last several years
with good care, but will still have to be replaced occasionally. I'll
bet they didn't really think about how much is consumed. Once this is
pointed out to them, you still can't assume they'll "get it", so tell
them you need more money.
To make my budget go even further, I have a few tricks up my sleeve: one
is to order as many supplies as possible from our central warehouse.
These are free to any classroom, though I think they keep track of what
each school orders. I can get white and manila drawing paper,
construction paper, markers, scissors, 1" bristle brushes, tempera, gum
erasers, etc. from them.
Another hint is to make friends with the librarian. Ours is always
wanting ideas of what to order for the school collection each year, and
I'm one of the few who steps in right away with a list (start a running
list now, for next year's budget). Through her, we've gotten some
wonderful books, videos, and slide sets, and I could probably get some
poster sets too. It may help your case if you could order some of these
with a teacher from another dept., such as math (Escher's tesellations),
history (Am. Indian), or geography (non-Western artifacts).
Paper mache is nearly free if you use newspapers and commodity flour.
Dry clay is pretty cheap. I prefer dry because if the moist 25# blocks
get too hard, they're a real pain to reconstitute. Gather 5 gal buckets
from construction sites or the janitors and mix your clay in those. If
real clay is out of the question, you can use the old flour/salt/water
dough, or I could send you a recipe for an even better dough using baking
soda and cornstarch.
I also use a _lot_ of throwaways in my class. Foam egg cartons and meat
trays and TV dinner trays are invaluable for a lot of things, esp. as
palettes for mixing paints or colored inks. Old plastic milk jugs are
cut off on one side, leaving the handle, and used for water jugs. One
year, when my supplies had not come in, we made masks out of sheer
desperation from all the stuff I collect. They were fantastic! So now
we do this every semester. We use large pieces of cardboard and
Styrofoam packing chunks (not the peanuts) carved with a hacksaw blade,
yarn, shell macaroni, paper mache, you-name-it.
Once you have a reputation as a scrounger, people will gladly save things
for you. The janitors love to bring me boxes of stuff since it saves
them a trip to the Dumpster. People I don't know have heard of me--this
is admittedly a small town--and called with offers of old refrigerator
boxes and stuff.
All these things allow me to spend money on some quality things like
Liquitex Basics acrylic and canvas boards. I think once you start to
look around at how you can replace some store-bought items with
throwaways, you'll discover you can save quite a bit (and point that out
to the admin to show how you're trying).
Good luck to you.
Maggie**remove x in address to reply