The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Secrets of Scots’ spending

Erik Cheng
Every year, the Carlmont administration decides the allocation of funds between programs and departments to best support their staff and students.

Books, sports, computers, and art supplies are just some of Carlmont’s expenses that the administration team must account for when deciding department budgets at the beginning of the year. 

The Sequoia Union High School District budgets more than $150 million per year to cover activities, teacher salaries, and student life. Carlmont receives only a fraction of this, around $200,000 per year. This number, called the discretionary budget, is the amount the administration team can spend on departments and smaller payments such as textbooks.

“It’s a collaborative process with the admin team and department chairs, but ultimately, the final decision is the principal’s decision,” said Ralph Crame, Carlmont High School’s ex-principal.

The issue of distributing funding is complex and multifaceted, with departments and programs with varying needs and priorities. The admin team’s job is vital, as its handling of funds affects every part of the school, from the supplies used in classrooms to the staffing of programs. Programs such as drama depend on outside funding as they do not receive much funding from the district.

“Our program is funded mainly through ticket sales from productions as well as donations from patrons and community members. The drama department receives only a small stipend from the district to partly cover classroom expenses,” said Nancy Martin, director of the drama department at Carlmont.

In addition, programs such as world languages with lower priority rely on budgeted money to cover their classroom expenses. The department as a whole receives only $1,280 of funding per year. Mindy Chiang, Carlmont’s Chinese teacher, coordinates the spending of her budget with the other world language teachers.

“There is really not a lot of money for individual teachers to spend, so it’s basically spent on supplies. It would be basic stuff like glue sticks, dry whiteboards, markers, and whiteboard erasers. Maybe some index cards, tape, staples, things like that. And then if we need toner cartridges, we have to juggle the money a little,” Chiang said.

Although Chiang may like to have more funding, other factors stand in the way. Carlmont’s departments are organized by priority, meaning the money would go to places the administration deems more crucial.

“Near the end of allocation, there is conflict. We weigh what benefits students the most and how many students are impacted. Is it a program that has impacted all the students? Or is it a program where only 10% of the students are impacted? So you look at the bigger picture and how many students benefit if we’re buying something,” Crame said.

However, this does not account for the large amounts of money funneled towards lower priority departments such as art, which is not a core course and only affects a small percentage of the student body. The majority of the department’s budget goes to art supplies for its students, making it one of the largest consumers of the school’s budget.

“You have a curriculum that’s more hands-on, and you’re producing an actual product. That’s why they have a need for a larger budget,” Crame said.

Through its budget planning, the administration addresses the needs of each specific department. Consequently, departments with higher needs for supplies will get more funding at the expense of others.

“In my opinion, the vast majority of departments are funded correctly. At the end of the year, I don’t see departments running out of money and claiming they need more resources. Two departments, art, and science, in the past couple of years, have made requests for budget increases, and they’ve got them because they made a strong argument for it,” said Shawn Gillogly, Carlmont Treasurer. 

Additionally, teachers and their programs are supported by the larger Carlmont community. According to Brian Switzer, the instrumental music director, his program is primarily and graciously supported by students’ families. That funding comes from the Carlmont Music Boosters, an organization that specifically supports instrumental music.

“We’re very fortunate here. The families recognize the good that being in this program brings to the lives of their students. The parents generously support us with funding,” Switzer said. 

The music department at Carlmont primarily relies on booster programs and donations, and it also receives some support from the district. However, the whole of Carlmont is supported by the Carlmont Academic Foundation (CAF). Last year, the CAF provided almost a million dollars in funding.

“That funding goes to the supplies teachers use in the classroom. It also pays for the tutoring center and the college and career center,” Crame said.

In the past, the CAF has raised around $900,000 per year for Carlmont. The caveat to CAF funds is that the administration still controls where the money goes. In some cases, the amount the administration funds them has not changed.

“Those [department funds] were the same funds that these departments were getting ten years ago. There are a few departments that have gotten more money based on just approaching the administration asking for it,” Gillogly said.

When the needs of core classes are met, funding will trickle down to other departments. Smaller departments, including administration, technology, or the library, utilize funding from a general fund outside the central educational departments due to their lower priority.

“We’ve broken down some of the budget into the main departments. Anything that’s leftover goes to other, smaller departments. So once everybody is funded, and they have a starting balance, anything that’s leftover just stays in what we call the general fund,” Gillogly said.

The general fund, in large part, is the remaining money that has not been allocated to any specific department. The money stays unspent until a department uses up its yearly budget from the start of the year or the administration team finds a use for it elsewhere. 

“The general fund is a catch-all for things at the end of the year,” Gillogly said.

With the money given to them by the district, the Carlmont administration must weigh priority and needs to allocate funding for departments. In this way, they can best support students and the Carlmont community.

“Doing any sort of budgeting is a difficult thing to do because as the person who is setting the budget or spending the budget, you have to factor in so many elements. It’s not an easy job, and I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. So the only thing I can do is try to be empathetic. Then try not to step out of my role and try to look at it from another person’s perspective,” Switzer said.

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About the Contributors
Evan Wang, Staff Writer
Evan Wang is a staff writer at Scot Scoop. He is a sophomore at Carlmont and this is his first year in journalism. Evan enjoys reporting local news and talking to people from the community. Twitter: @EvanWan32654720
Erik Cheng, Scot Scoop Managing Editor
Erik Cheng (Class of 2024) enjoys camping, backpacking, cooking, and photography. He currently serves as Managing Editor of Scot Scoop but continues to explore his passion for discovering local stories and investigation. You can find him discovering new communities in the area, hiking up mountains, desperately trying not to burn down his parents' kitchen, working at REI, or taking photos of the local flora and fauna. View his portfolio here.

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    Evan WangMay 24, 2022 at 11:19 pm

    cool a rticle!

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Secrets of Scots’ spending