March 30, 2013

3 ways to stretch your art budget

My most recent post about ordering art supplies attracted much thought to our art budgets.
We all know budgets are being cut left and right.

Most of the things in an art room will always need to be replenished.
We live in a room full of consumables.
Clearly I can't keep the same markers in my room for years.
We buy. We use. We buy.

The question is how to creatively stretch your budget.

I have roughly 350 students.
And $700 in my budget.
That means $2 a kid.

The three most important times for me concerning supplies are
April, May, and August.

It is in these months that I do the most to stretch my budget as far as it can go.
Here is what happens.

April.
April is when my bulk order list is due to the office.
My art budget account must be cleared out every year as it does not spill over into the following school year.
I usually sit down with three art ordering brochures.
My go-to places:
 local district supply
// blick //

I make lists. Compare Prices. Tweak lists as I go along.
I clean out my entire budget.

So you ask
Do you go over budget?

Yes.
All the time.

This is where May and August become important.

May.
On the very last few weeks of school I make an announcement to all my students that I want their lightly used art supplies.
I ask them to test out all their supplies and it they seem to work then to bring them all down either on the last days of school or when they come and see me in art for the last time.
You would be amazed what you get.
Everything from scissors, glue, erasers, markers, colored pencils, sharpies, highlighters, dry erase markers...
It is Christmas in May.

Things get donated to a large cardboard box that has different organizational tubs in it.
My fifth graders help "clean-up" the art room.
It is their job to organize this plethora of supplies into my cabinets.
That really helps bring in supplies for free.

August.
Two important things happen in August.
One is our "back to school night".
It is on this day that I put out a sign that looks like this.
I put the things I need most on a wish list and display it for parents to see.
They take a post-it note as a reminder and I always get stuff brought in.
Parents know things are tight.
A lot of them are willing to help us out if it helps their children out.
Also, remember that everything is cheaper when it is August.
So put off buying markers in April and make a Wal-mart run on school supplies.
It will save you a fortune.

Finally in August I start my // Original Works // program.
Scared to try something like this on your own?
Don't be.
I did it by myself on my very first year of teaching.
They make is very easy.
(and it gets easier every year)

I have doubled my budget every year I have done this.
So if you would like to have some extra cash to buy something special 
try a fundraiser.

Those are just 3 ways that I stretch my art budget every year.
Hope that helps!

(note: I am not being paid to promote any of these stores or programs)