Staples High School is in the top 15 Connecticut schools that spends the most money per student for education. In fact, Westport spends over seven thousand dollars more per student than the lowest-funded school districts. However, there is speculation over how well that extra money is spent.
According to the Board of Education’s (BOE) adopted 2016-2017 budget, $4,327,050 goes towards supplies and equipment in Westport.
“This school district has amazing resources, and pretty much any request teachers have that is focused on helping students to develop academically is granted,” Julie Heller, the English department chair, said.
However, students like Alyssa Hyman ’18, a member of Student Assembly, question the necessity of some of those purchases.
“The money could be used in better ways, such as renovating the boys’ locker room, purchasing more Smart Boards,” Hyman said.
Some also note that, due to a constant effort to find fresh and relevant materials to keep classes lively, many books in the English department go unused every year.
“We certainly have a lot of books, and they are not all used every year. Some haven’t been used in many years,” Heller said.
Students have also voiced frustration over the physical education department’s spending. In 2013, the district of Westport Public Schools was awarded the Carol M. White PEP Grant, a grant that aspires to “initiate, expand, or enhance physical education programs.” With this grant, the physical education department purchased new equipment such as archery sets, a climbing wall and rollerblades to enhance the teaching and learning experience.
”The money could be better concentrated in hiring another teacher or two to shrink class sizes or invest in new classroom equipment that would be utilized on a regular basis,” Marshall Heiser ’18 said.
However, the physical education department said its hands were tied since the funding came with restrictions on what it could and could not be used for.
“There were very strict guidelines on the federally funded grant that we had to follow and everything that was purchased was either proposed within the grant or had to deal with program changes that we made throughout the course of the grant,” David Gusitsch, physical education department head, said.
Still, there are those who recognize the imbalance of funding.
“Staples is an amazing school,” Hallie Spear ’18, another member of Student Assembly, said. “There are many schools close to Staples that are completely underfunded and need the extra money that Staples has.”
Overall, however, Spear supports the school’s use of funds.
“I do not think equipment at Staples is wasted,” Spear said. “Most of the equipment […] is used even if it is non-essential.”