High School Budget Advocacy Toolkit

COVID-19 should not mean the end of student media at your school. Student journalists provide an essential service to their community; in the wake of COVID-19, high school student journalists have provided the glue to hold the school community together, and have kept the student body apprised of critical changes to their school year and information about the ways schools are working to keep students safe, healthy and educated. Schools and districts are making difficult financial decisions in the coming months, but changes to the funding, structure or existence of the student media program will have ramifications for the entire student body. And, unfortunately, some schools may use COVID-19 budget constraints as an excuse to weaken or eliminate student media for other than financial reasons.

You do not have to accept a change to your program simply because the financial concerns of your school are real. A few quick calls may save your program — and keep your entire student body informed and connected in the future. If you suspect your program may be eliminated or weakened as a result of COVID-19 budget cuts, this toolkit is for you. This toolkit is intended for advisers, students and parents to respond to a number of scenarios. If you are facing a cut to your program that is not detailed here, the strategies within these toolkits should still work for you. 

If you suspect your program being targeted, in whole or in part, because of the content of past, present or future student media coverage, contact SPLC’s free legal hotline right away. Adviser retaliation and content-based financial changes are censorship, and our attorneys may be able to help.

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