School Funding Focuses on Student Needs and Learning

Francis Lewis has approximately 4,500 students and 232 full-time teachers.  Each student, on average, costs $4,200 and the school receives more than $22 million from the government, according to AP of Organization Ms. Ali. However, budgeting in a large school like Francis Lewis High School consists of a process that includes many departments of administration.

To clarify a rumor regarding budget in the school, Dr. Marmor does not give money to each department.  There is no lack of funding or over-funding. Funding is based on supply and demand, meaning that whatever supplies teachers request that will benefit or are needed for their teaching will be supplied accordingly. 

“There is no departmental budget,” Principal Dr. Marmor said. “What exists is a very simple thing. Everybody asks me for whatever they want.”

Dr. Marmor and Ms. Ali have created a system in which they rely on each other to provide basic funding for the student body that’ll help improve learning.  Although Dr. Marmor and Ms. Ali oversee a large quantity of internal funding, they are not in control of all of the money that goes into the school.

“Budget gets calculated on October 31,”  Dr. Marmor said, “based on the kids who are here. That’s when they take a snapshot and they tell us, ‘here’s your budget for the year.’”

Francis Lewis receives money from federal and state government and then priorities are determined. The first priority is making sure our school has the necessary staff and that the school is able to provide their pay. This includes support staff, school aids, administration and teachers. Secondly, the administration has to put money aside for basic programs that are available each school year, such as classes and extracurricular activities.  

Along with prioritizing salaries, school administration also ensures that the necessary supplies are bought. The school supplies teachers with items such as expo markers, expo erasers, paper and ink, which are essential to a teacher’s daily responsibilities in the classroom.

“Every year we use our budget to satisfy the instructional program to meet the needs of the kids,” Dr. Marmor stated. “We supply every single teacher in the beginning of the year with all of their basic supplies.”

However, the school cannot provide every satisfaction teachers may have.  These satisfactions may be unique paint colors used for a class or poster boards that are needed for a project.  In this case, teachers have two options. The first option is to use money given to them through a program called Teacher’s Choice.  Another option can be requesting supplies through a department process.

“We have what we call a department assist, usually a teacher who’s in charge of all the supplies and things of that nature,” Social Studies Assistant Principal Mr. Shin said. “I usually have a talk with him or her at the start and end of the school year [and we discuss] some things that we may need.”

Another option teachers have for funding is DonorsChoose, which gives teachers the opportunity to connect with individual donors and corporations to help fund requests for pedagogical resources. 

“I know a teacher [that] requested iPads,” Mr. Shin added.  “She put in a DonorsChoose fund and she was able to get her classroom full of iPads.  Those iPads belong to the school, but she was able to get that money from them.”   

Although Francis Lewis invests money in necessary supplies and basic yearly programs, sports fall under a different category in terms of financial support.

“They’ll [sports teams] fund raise for those things [competitions, games, etc…], but it isn’t because the school doesn’t have the money,” Dr. Marmor explained.  “It’s because those things are a bit more personal to the program and it’s not appropriate for the school to pay.”

The school will only provide for sports when it is school equipment. PSAL provides approximately $3000 to the school to be distributed to all sports teams. Whether the money is spent on referees for home games or new uniforms and equipment, AP of Guidance Ms. Palomino is in charge of distributing the funding.

Additionally, the school can receive money through programs that are supported financially through the government.  There is a program called Reso A grants that come from the city council or from the borough president, according to Dr. Marmor. 

“Every year, most schools, ask the city council to give them money,” Dr. Marmor added. “The city council allocates some money to all the schools in their districts to use for projects.  We received a Reso A grant from Councilman Koo to do the auditorium.”

In additional to programs such as the Reso A grant, Francis Lewis also receives funding through lunch forms. Student lunch forms determine the financial status of a school. Francis Lewis is considered to be a Title 1 school, meaning that there are many students below the poverty line.  The government will give the school additional funding to help provide students with necessary materials.

“Lunch forms this year gave us $1.9 million,” Ms. Ali said. “The reason that is so important is because the money we get from the government, that regular money, can never support our school.”