THE REVIEW INVESTIGATES– How Are Elective Budgets Managed?


Paula Villalon, Opinion Reporter

Students here at Rangeview High School have many opportunities from sports, to clubs and of course, electives. At Rangeview High school we’re fortunate enough to have a multitude of different electives ranging from special effects makeup all the way to business classes. How does the school have so many electives along with making the budget for them? To help us get a better understanding we went out and interviewed elective teachers and some of the staff that have control over these very budgets. 

When starting off, trying to figure out the budget for these classes I decided to talk to a few of the elective teachers. One of the first teachers interviewed was James Laguna (Choir Teacher).  

He was asked, “How much are you or others able to put in the equipment and is there a certain budget you get for it?” 

He responded saying,  “We get an annual budget of approximately 4,000 dollars a year. That number has fluctuated throughout the years; I have seen it as low as 2,000 and as high as 7,000 thousand. But it changes year to year based upon what’s available in the district and building budgets.” 

The money that some of these electives get are based overall annually and can change based on what the school needs and what the district overall has available for us. 

The next question we asked Mr. Laguna was “Do students have to pay for your classes and if yes, do you get to decide those prices.?”. He went on to say, “Yes they do and the price is actually completely up to me. I try to make sure that the prices for the students reflect what they are getting out of the programs. So more field trips cost more money, more outfits cost more money. We have been very blessed at Rangeview because we have the robes for the concert choir that we have been using for years. It’s been about 15 or 20 years since they have been replaced so we have been doing some repairs on them. So we do charge our concert choir the lowest amount of money but they also have two field trips in the year that they go on covering pay for the buses and the cost of the robe repair.” 

He added,  “But the one that has the largest price is the mixed show choir because they go on multiple field trips, not just two or three. They get more fees because of the things they participate in as well as all state and out overnight field trips or two. I try to make sure to give the minimum amount needed and give students opportunities to do some work, study or even fundraise for it if the prices are a problem. Even when the situation is very dire we even offer scholarships to help them just take care of that. But money should never be a hindrance for you to do art”.

One teacher isn’t necessarily enough information though, so we set out to ask Jacquelynn Ryan(Ceramics Teacher) any information or input she had as well. Overall, I asked her very similar questions to the onesI’d previously asked Laguna. The first question to Ms.Ryan was “What do you know about the school’s budget?” she admitted, “Okay so I know that the school’s budget isn’t just one big pile of money. We get money and we have different funding that can only be used for certain things. So like the teacher budget is called TE, which basically means we get a certain amount of money based on how many kids are enrolled in Rangeview from the state saying we have x amount of dollars we can only spend on teachers meaning we can’t just hire a million teachers and have teeny tiny classes. Then we have Esther funds which can only be spent on things that are meant to help kids or support kids regarding anything related to the pandemic. So learning gaps, achievement gaps, stuff like that. Then the art budget is mostly the fees that students pay. So my ceramics kids’ fees for that semester can only go towards the materials the kids will use and I can’t use it for something else. I also can’t just say I will spend only 25 on one kid and save the rest. It all has to be spent on materials specifically on things the kids will be using that year.” 

Now before knowing all this information almost everyone thought that the school had control over this and almost always wondered why the school didn’t have better electives or supplies for the electives we already have. After finding out about the budget and it’s complications, it’s clear that teachers and staff at Rangeview are very much trying to give us good quality things. 

Now, I’m not saying the supplies are the best of the best, but they make sure that we aren’t getting the cheapest stuff out there. Along with making sure that we get the best use out of the resources we have. They are having to do all of this while still keeping account that every single student is separate and has different needs than the other. They have to do all of this while also making sure they have basic supplies for those classes. 

It’d be easiest to play the blame game and say that Aurora Public Schools should just give our school’s bigger budgets, but it’s not all that easy unfortunately. For that to happen taxes would have to be raised in Aurora, but also they have to keep in account that there are multiple other schools that have this exact want as well. 

It’s always been a wonder as to why other schools seemed like they had more funding than Rangeview, but it wasn’t until after the interviews that it was discovered that school budgets are decided based on the number of students they have but also what kind of students they have. 

For example, if one school had 100 more students than the other, they would get more budget room from the district because they have to give the more for the teachers or the supplies needed for them in those classes. 

Further, if 50 of those students have a 1st language that isn’t English then they would get an even bigger budget due to the fact they need to have enough to help those students thrive and get the resources needed to help. 

When previously considering Rangeview’s budget, it was assumed they had most of the say and lots of control on where the money they get goes for our electives. In Reality, Rangeview is just following the guidelines and making due with the funds they get for each department. 

They are having to go break down piece by piece which department needs the most funding and why. All while still  trying to keep every student they have in account. 

While we may all wish we had a bigger art department or more dance classes, Rangeview has been very lucky to have as many electives as we have now.  They’ve already made sure we have opportunities, more than many of the other schools in the APS district. We are fortunate enough to have the elective budget we have now.