Is There an Answer?
Every one of our schools have a “Computers in Education School Contact”, (or CIESC). They are a talented group of teachers who voluntarily commit time to perform all manner of duties that help to promote and sustain the use of technology in our schools.
Last night one of these teachers posted to our private conference a message that provoked a lot of thought.
Our “computers in the classroom” budget is used to provide technology to our schools. The technology is allocated based on enrolment and allows us to provide a laptop per every 7 students at Elementary level and a desktop per every 5 students at secondary. Schools supplement this through their own fundraising efforts to purchase additional technology. Additionally, we have wireless internet access in every room for every student from Kindergarten to Grade 12, leading to an ever-growing BYOD opportunity.
The question asked was, in short, “is this a fair model?”. The feeling was that those schools with less capacity to fundraise and higher levels of poverty are being left behind as the more affluent area schools are purchasing more technology and able to make better use of the BYOD opportunities. The Ministry regulations on school fundraising clearly state that school generated funds cannot be used to replace board budgets or provisions, meaning the way the central budget for technology is handled cannot be changed to mitigate against fundraising inequities.
Now, I know of many schools labelled as being lower on the socio-economic scale have thriving technology use and BYOD, and some of our more affluent schools have chosen to invest elsewhere and do not promote BYOD, but these may actually be the exception rather than the rule. There is a large element of leadership and decision making that is involved in this conversation, but still the question remains – “is this fair?” and if not, what are some alternative models.
The 2011-2012 budget for my board shows that schools generated $9.9 million. Is it fair on the schools who struggle to generate funds that they don’t get a bigger portion of this amount? Would it be fair on the schools who do raise significant funds if they did? How do we support the schools with less fundraising capacity without punishing those who do? The regulations linked above do not mention the ability to pool the money, but they seem to imply school-level management of these funds.
So rather than “is it fair?”, my question is “is there an answer?”. What are other systems doing to support schools who struggle to generate their own funds without taking something away from those who do? Is this something that can even be solved at school/board level or is it a Ministry decision?