Texas is facing a potential $4 billion slash in school funding, which brought protestors to the State Capitol in Austin on Saturday. But public education cuts are one thing that may not be bigger in Texas. In California, general fund spending for K-12 schools dropped $9.4 billion over the past two years. Administrators are searching high and low for places to cut and areas where they can increase effectiveness for the same money or less. In many cases, education technology is one piece of the puzzle. Here are few examples of cost savings and efficiencies we heard from a recent gathering of leaders and experts in K-12 education, whom we bring together every few months to advise on our work in developing technology that improves every aspect of education.
- With online professional development, districts save money on substitutes – a luxury that is no longer available to many administrators.
- Putting educational syllabi and resources online saves on printing costs and binding. It also prevents the duplication of teacher effort and maximizes the reach of superior lesson plans and learning objects.
- Travel savings are huge for district administrators.
- Virtual parent-teacher conferences and assemblies preserve the precious classroom hours at a time when an increasing number of students face a shortened school year, another measure employed to save money.
- Virtual options for public school students allow districts to compete with charter schools and private education options, preserving vital FTE funding for the district.
- Another cost saving measure, increasing class size, is sometimes at odds with educators’ ability to provide the best educational opportunities for all students. But hybrid learning options – where students are part-time in the classroom and part-time online – allow districts to increase class size while maintaining quality.
- Virtual education allows districts to serve homebound populations in a cost effective way, helping meet mandates for access and accessibility.
- Schools can continue to offer a range of courses, or even expand options, through the use of online courses spread across multiple schools.