"You can run a program on a little money; but, you can't run a program on no money at all."
First we present the results from the Program Resources Questionnaire for fiscal resources, by research focus area (comprehensive districtwide programs, school restructuring, adult-child learning activities). Then we present results from interviews conducted with key contacts concerning human resources. The results are presented in narrative form and contain a discussion of our findings, where appropriate.
Comprehensive Districtwide Programs. The three sites chosen for study in the comprehensive districtwide research focus area are all large, urban districts. Two of the districts, Fort Worth, TX, and Louisville, KY, have initiatives at the district level and the local school level that deal with middle grade school/family partnerships. However, these initiatives are not budgeted at the district level. In fact both districts do not define their initiatives as "programs." It was evident that in both of these districts it was difficult for personnel to partition out the costs of the initiatives from the total district budget.
Because of the scope of involvement initiatives, it was clear that many of the fiscal resources are provided in-kind. Often school business partners contribute equipment, materials and supplies and support to middle grade schools. For example, in Louisville, Barret Traditional Middle School receives considerable support from Baptist East Hospital. State-of-the art technology is provided for student use, and personnel are often on campus as resources to the instructional program. In Fort Worth, J. C. Penney serves as a training site for middle grade students in the Vital Link program. As part of the C 3 (Communities, Corporations, and Classrooms) program, dozens of businesses are linked to school reform efforts.
In contrast, Minneapolis Public Schools provides a district-level budget for the Volunteer Services/Family Partnership program. The total budget for the 1993-94 school year was almost $240,000. All of these funds are provided from state and local school district allocations. Additionally, local service organizations and foundations contribute scholarship monies for individual school campuses. Approximately 60% of the total funds are allocated to personnel salaries and benefits. The remainder of the funds is spent on operating expenses (materials and supplies) for the program.
In all three comprehensive districtwide program sites, local school principals indicated that they spent discretionary funds on school/family partnership initiatives. Operating parent centers within their schools, refreshments for meetings, providing transportation costs for parents to attend meetings, and costs for basic family needs (clothing and food) were part of the discretionary spending of these principals. Local schools also receive the benefit of monies derived from parent-teacher-student organizations. In one middle school we visited, the Parent Teacher Organization raised over $45,000 through various sales and community-based events during the year. These additional funds are usually earmarked specifically for school/family partnership initiatives at the local school, or to supplement current infrastructures that benefit parents (for example, a school telephone "hotline" for parents, or parent center activities).
School restructuring. In the restructuring sites that we visited, none of the schools or districts returned our questionnaire. In both Lamoni, IA, and Shelburne, VT, school restructuring efforts were aimed at the entire organizational pattern of the school. In other words, restructuring took the form of moving toward a middle school concept, reorganizing into grade level communities, or new school construction. Lacking specific information from these schools/districts, it was impossible to estimate the costs associated with these kinds of school restructuring efforts that involve both parents, families, and community members.
At Beck Middle School in Georgetown, SC, Project REACH is partially funded from foundation sources. Initial start-up funds were provided, but the school was required to supplement these funds in order to keep the program viable. No cost estimates were available from program personnel on initial REACH funding.
Adult-child learning programs. Two of the sites in this research focus area were able to provide us with some estimates of program costs. In New York City, funds for parent and family involvement initiatives have totaled over $8 million citywide since the inception of the Parent Involvement Program office in 1988. However, specific breakdowns for budget expenditures were not available. In Natchez, MS, the Chapter 1 Parent Center is funded through local federal Chapter 1 monies. The total budget for the Center is over $100 thousand per year. Of that amount, 75% is spent on salaries and benefits, and 25% is spent on materials and supplies for working with students and families. In Rochester, NY, the Parent/Child Learning Program is one of several initiatives provided at the district level. The district was unable to provide us with specific budget information about the program due to the nature of their funding source.
Although we were able to find adult-child learning "programs," many of the activities and strategies that link parents directly to what their students are learning through homework are located in individual classrooms. In the absence of a cohesive program that links home learning activities across individual classrooms, it is impossible to estimate the amount of funds that are spent on adult-child learning activities.
Hidden costs. Teachers and school administrators that we interviewed indicated that they spent their own personal funds -- estimated by most teachers to be in excess of $1,000 per year -- on such items as food, clothing, leisure reading materials, and other instructional materials for individual students (aside from whole-classroom use). If these estimates are accurate, it is possible that teacher-supported school reform efforts reach into the millions of dollars nationwide.
In the comprehensive districtwide sites that we visited, only one (Minneapolis, MN) had personnel at the district level who were employed to administer the program. In Fort Worth, TX, and Louisville, KY, district level staff -- for example Middle School Directors -- were responsible for overseeing all middle schools in the district, including efforts at involving parents, families, and community members in the schools. Both of these districts also employ a person who serves as the liaison with the business community. In Louisville, a district-level resource teacher oversees the implementation of the Effective Parenting Information for Children program.
School restructuring sites did not employ individuals at the district or school level who were responsible for school/family partnerships. In all of these sites, our respondents indicated that the size of the community and the schools played a significant role in involvement. The idea expressed most often was that "everyone is responsible for changing the school; it's not the responsibility of any one individual."
Two of the adult-child learning programs that we visited are "nested" within larger, more comprehensive districtwide involvement efforts. In New York City, Community School District No. 3 employs a director for the Parent Involvement Program, a coordinator for the adult-child learning program, three school neighborhood workers who share responsibilities for the middle schools in the district, and two parent liaisons in each school. In Rochester, NY, there is a district level coordinator to oversee school/family partnership initiatives, including the Parent/Child Learning Program. In Natchez, MS, the Chapter 1 Parent Center is part of the federal programs office. The Center has a coordinator, two full-time resource teachers, and paraprofessionals who work directly with parents, family members, and students.