> My budget has been 2700 for about the last 5
> years. I used to get extra money every year but it has
I have around 300 6-7-8th graders. Our budgets have gone up and down. I tried around $2,000 this year and it was accepted. Next year, I am not so confident (new superintendant) I try to make sure I have enough stuff stashed away for two years, just in case. I still try to get financial donations by doing extra things in the community - I have painted campaign signs, designed t-shirts for clubs and festivals, and this weekend I juried a local art festival, and that $$ goes into my fund - this is the only money I have access to during the year.
I have found, to my surprise, that doing longer-term projects with slightly nicer materials has been the most cost effective for me, because my students take it more seriously and waste less. Also, stop motion animation has an upfront cost, but after that it is basically free.