Budget Woes

Budget Woes

Irene Chen (University of Houston – Downtown, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 5
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-492-5.ch005
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A small group of technology application teachers and campus IT specialists exchanged ideas about how the latest round of budget cuts might impact their jobs and technology on campus in general. Issues brought up included how schools “can do it all cheaper” if more online courses are added, how dual credit courses–that count both for high school graduation requirements and college credits–are becoming popular among families with much smaller tuition budgets, how teachers have to wait for 6-8 years for new computers instead of 4-5, how campus Web sites are out-dated due to lack of maintenance fees, and how campus instructional technologists are too busy fixing obsolete computers and equipment.
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The Case

After attending a trade show, a small group of technology application teachers and campus IT specialists from several school districts gathered and discussed the impacts of the latest round of budget cuts affecting their jobs and technology on campus in general.

Melinda: I have seen districts having to adjust faculty and staff salaries, cut maintenance spending, and implement department and campus cutbacks. When students return to campus this fall, they'll find crowded classrooms, less access to faculty and counselors, fewer campus services, and more difficulty getting classes they need to graduate. The schools have responded by asking parents to pay more fees while at the same time expanding class sizes, eliminating programs, laying off staff, and furloughing teachers and other employees. It is likely that we will continue to see these cascading effects from budget cuts across the board.

Barry: These funding/spending changes have already drastically hindered the ability of schools to make “bonus” additions of technology implementations on all levels.

Mark: What worries me about these budget cuts is that I have heard a few people up in the hierarchy claim that they “can do it all cheaper” if we add more online courses. While I don't yet think this can be considered a trend like the one in online higher education, I worry that online courses may be increasingly viewed by the state and administrators as the equivalent to industrialized farms: do it quicker, cheaper, faster.

Deborah: Campus-based activities and programs with small student numbers will be eliminated and teachers can be let go once online programs are available. I wonder if this may become more widespread, and if so, the incentives for quality online education do not exist. It's all about the money.

Barry: I heard that the state has contacted a number of distance education consortiums and virtual school networks to look for ways to expand current online course offerings with the expectation of enrolling thousands of more students in fall courses.

Melinda: By the way, Mark, you teach a course for the state’s virtual school network. What are popular online courses for K-12 students nowadays?

Mark: Routinely offered online courses are Algebra I & II, Geometry, Astronomy, Art, Biology, Biology AP, Business Computer Information System, Calculus AB Advanced Placement, Driver And Safety Education, Economics With Emphasis On The Free Enterprise, English IV, English Language And Composition AP, Languages Other Than English I through IV, Mathematical Models With Applications, Physical Education, United States Government And Politics AP, United States History, World Geography, Psychology AP, and Physics.

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