Music teachers typically fall into two categories; those with school money and those without. You might not yet know what your situation will be, BUT if your school has some money set aside for your use, GREAT, you need to be a good steward of the money so that the people providing in can see that you will put the funds to good use. Here are some rules to follow and questions to ask.
Rule # 1 – Understand the Procedures!
Every school has a procedure in place for the handling and disbursement of funds, the provision of materials and equipment and the acceptance of donations. As a professional, it is now your responsibility to do your research, ask questions and FOLLOW THE PROCEDURE!
Ask these questions:
Rule # 2 – FOLLOW THE PROCEDURES
You are now a professional and as a good steward of the funds you have been entrusted to use, you must follow the procedures given to you. The good news is that there are people at school there to help you follow these procedures. Ask questions, write down the answers and then follow through.
Rule # 3 – KNOW YOUR DEADLINES
The conversation about money MAY BE one of the first conversations you have with your administration and involved support staff simply because as a new music teacher you may need to buy some music for upcoming performances. If you choose not to order anything right away, that is fine, as long as you know that there will be deadlines after which all transactions stop until the next school year.
Rule #4 – PLAN AHEAD AND BE SPECIFIC
As you begin to plan strategic purchases for the year look ahead and notice times when you want to order ahead. For example, when and how to purchase recorders can really affect when and how you get to teach them. If you purchase the recorders outright and then sell the recorders to the students, you must have the funds to start with. If you collect funds from students and then order, then students will have to wait for a while before receiving their product.
Furthermore, when you get to your school and you see that a big purchase is in your future, you will want to sit down with your calendar and other planned purchases to make sure that purchasing the bass xylophone you need in January won’t cause a problem for the busses you need to go on your choir field trip in April.
With that in mind, at some point it will be a good idea to list out some financial goals you have for the next five years. Discuss them with your administration as they may be able to help you along the way. For example, it may be that after your first performance you realize that your risers are on their last leg. Risers are not cheap, and the purchase of even one may exceed or blow your budget. However, it is a great idea to discuss with your principal possible ways in which the risers might be replaced with a given timeframe (2-5 years). If your principal is aware of the need, they can be part of the solution. If they don’t know about it, then nothing will get done. As part of the discussion, you should provide information about what is available and what would work with existing equipment. Occasionally, principals will find themselves with some available funds and might be looking for a place to use those funds well. If your principal knows you have a list and a plan, they might see fit to gift your music class with those funds. Without a plan, those limited resources will go elsewhere. At this moment in time you might not know anything about risers, or sound equipment or other cool stuff that may be needed, but as the music teacher you get to become the expert in all the things from sound equipment to stage lighting and risers. The more you know, the better equipped you will be to advocate for your school to have a well maintained music room and performance space.
Managing your music budget is a HUGE responsibility, but it is a VERY important part of the job over all. By learning and following the procedures and planning ahead, you can make the most of the funds you have and might even be blessed with more. I know you will do your best!