This is an excerpt from Technology for Physical Educators, Health Educators, and Coaches With Web Resource by Seth E. Jenny,Jennifer M. Krause & Tess Armstrong.
If you are looking to make a big or small technology purchase, you have many options for finding funds. Every school or program has a different protocol to follow, but there are some typical sources of funding that you should look to first before looking into more complex solutions. Some typical sources for school-based funding come from:
- the school budget,
- a parent-teacher association (PTA), or
- a booster club
The School Budget
The first step to acquiring new technology is to look at your school's budget. State funding for public schools is typically allocated based on the number of students that are enrolled at the school. Often teachers have a set budget at the beginning of the year that they can use for supplies; however, it is not uncommon to have limited or no funds based on the school needs for the year. Although the intricacies of the school budget process are beyond the scope of this book, you do need to know that you, as a teacher, have the right to request funds from the school budget for your program. Coaches also typically have an annual budget, which is different from the budget for the health or physical educator. Your athletics director will help you determine your annual budget. If you are a practitioner that teaches and coaches, be sure you are using your funding for the appropriate purposes. Your teaching budget should not support your coaching, and vice versa.
An additional source of funding for health and physical education teachers is through the school's Title IV funds. When the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB)Act in 2015, there were financial implications for schools beginning in the 2017-2018 school year. Now, as part of ESSA, physical and health education are part of a well-rounded education, thus opening up an avenue for additional funding. ESSA includes “a flexible block grant program under Title IV Part A, which is authorized at $1.6 billion in FY 2019” (Society of Health and Physical Educators America, 2018) (figure 16.1). Title IV Part A provides funding for activities in the three following areas:
- Providing students with a well-rounded education
- Supporting safe and healthy students (e.g., school mental health, drug and violence prevention, training on trauma-informed practices, health and physical education)
- Supporting the effective use of technology (e.g., professional development, blended learning, and purchase of devices)
According to the SHAPE America ESSA fact sheet:
ESSA stipulates that each state will receive an allocation based on the Title I funding formula. Using the same Title I formula, the states will then allocate funds to school districts. Any school district that receives a formula allocation above $30,000 must conduct a needs assessment and then must expend 20% of its grant on safe and healthy school activities and 20% on activities to provide a well-rounded education. The remaining 60% of the allocation may be spent on all three priorities, including technology. However, there is a 15% cap on devices, equipment, software, and digital content. (Society of Health and Physical Educators America, 2018)
As previously mentioned, physical and health education teachers both qualify for funds allocated by Title IV as part of ESSA. This money, however, is not guaranteed. It is your role as a practitioner to create a plan and request funding from your program coordinator, administrator, or any other stakeholders responsible for allocating funds. SHAPE America proposes linking all of your requests to both the physical and health education national standards, as well as the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards (Society of Health and Physical Educators America, 2018) (table 16.1). The SHAPE America website (shapeamerica.org) provides a planning tool to help practitioners create a proposal to demonstrate their needs, as well as a template for writing a funding request letter. To reiterate, this funding is not guaranteed, but it is a great resource to begin looking for funding. If you do not get funding your first year, build your case and work to gain support from your school community again next year. Know that change sometimes takes time, and the extra time will help you build your case.
Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)
It is not always realistic to count on a school budget for obtaining funds. You may work at a school in a high-needs area where the budget is tight to help accommodate the needs of your students. When weighing the basic needs of the students (such as food and safety) versus the needs of your program, you also may forego a portion of your annual budget to help in a higher area of need. If you are teaching at a school with limited to no budget, then you should consider approaching your parent-teacher association (PTA) to request assistance. The PTA is a group of family members who volunteer to advocate for the needs of students and align their projects with the strategic goals of the schools. The mission statement of the National PTA is “to make every child's potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children” (National PTA, n.d.). The PTA can advocate on your behalf for ESSA funding, host fundraisers to support your program, or write grants through the National PTA website. Not all schools have PTAs, but most have some type of parent group working to ensure their students succeed. It is absolutely realistic to approach the PTA or parent group with requests for funds. The PTA might allocate a portion of the “Box Tops for Education” fundraiser to your program or perhaps raise money for technology resources that can be shared by a variety of teachers. Before approaching your PTA, it is best to speak with your administrator to find out the protocols at your school. You may be asked to sit in at a PTA meeting and pitch your needs or help run a fundraiser in conjunction with the group. Before approaching the PTA with requests, be sure to familiarize yourself with suggested steps for effective fundraising, shown in table 16.2.
A booster club is an organized group of parents that operate in the interests of athletes and the athletic program (Jensen & Overman, 2003). A primary purpose of booster clubs is to raise money for teams, especially when budget cuts prohibit teams from reaching their full potential. Booster clubs typically operate under a set of bylaws that are written by the athletic director, and they have specific rules to follow about financing athletic teams. Booster clubs sometimes have associated membership fees, hold fundraisers, or write grants to support teams. Each team typically has its own booster club. For instance, the gymnastics team would have a gymnastics booster club, and the wrestling team would have a wrestling booster club. When approaching a booster club for booster-generated funds, a coach should provide a written request. Booster clubs often have a mandatory form that coaches should fill out when requesting funds. If your booster club does not have a form, then consider creating one. A simple Internet search of “booster club request form” will provide you with a variety of samples to choose from. A typical request form includes the following:
- What is the purpose of the funds?
- When are the funds needed?
- How much money is requested? (Submit quotes from three vendors.)
- How many students will benefit from the funds?
- How will the activity benefit students who participate?
- Will there be any matching funds from another source?
- What efforts have been made to obtain money from other sources?
- What activities have parents of student-athletes undertaken to support the project?
Before approaching the booster club, have a conversation with your athletic director about norms and protocols at your specific institution.