Teachers get flack for being smart about district budget cuts


When the times get tough, it's time to get creative. When administrators slashed his school's supply budget, California Calculus teacher Tom Farber found himself in a bind. All of his quizzes, tests, and exams added up to $500 in copying expenses -- almost $200 over his allotted paper budget.

A "cool" teacher might have forgotten about tests, but a good one would find a way to give his students the practice they'd need to prepare for their Advanced Placement exams at the year's end. Instead of dropping tests, Farber started soliciting sponsors. He sold ads on test papers for $10-$30, depending on the size of the test, and soon he had his copying expenses covered.

The educator's innovative solution has not been without controversy. While most of the sponsorships are simply inspirational messages paid for by parents, about a third of them come from local businesses. Some are worried that this could spark an over-commercialization of schools, but Farber says it's just a logical solution. "We're expected to do more with less," he says. For most teachers, that means paying for over-budget expenses out of pocket -- to the tune of about $430 per year, according to the National Education Association.