From budgets in the red to schools in the green

February 13, 2009

The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis’. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger-but recognize the opportunity.  John F. Kennedy

There is no need to waste many words describing the economic crisis we all find ourselves in.  Schools across the country are taking catastrophic losses of personnel and programs.  Bailouts and stimulus packages offer promises to soften the blows but most likely will only have minimal impact on schools next year.  There is no “golden parachute” for schools,  for us we must make hard choices and budget cuts that have more impact to students than they do to spreadsheets.  Programs and services will be cut, positions may be lost, resources will be scarce, but perhaps, once we accept that we can begin to search for opportunity.

A single strand of opportunity that we must grasp next year is conservation.  We have the tools and the resources available to us now to become a greener school district.   Technology offers us the ability to change the way our school uses resources.  We can easily become less dependent on paper, toner, postage, and copy machines by challenging ourselves to be more responsible consumers of these resources.  This requires changing our own personal habits and comfort zones.  The benefit in the end is worth the initial discomfort, not only are we moving towards being more ec0-friendly, but we will save more of our precious dollars.

Lets look at some ways we that our district can go green.

  1. Shut off computers when not in use – Easy to do but not done enough.  Simply turning off your computers, monitors, printers, dvd players, etc. when you go home at night is a great start.
  2. Submit assignments digitally – Have your students use an online dropbox such as drop.io or use Moodle to submit assignments as a file instead of on paper.
  3. Give tests and quizes online with Examview – If you textbook came with the Examview program consider using it to administer tests and quizes.  Not only will you use less paper but it will cut down on your correcting.
  4. Use and online classroom – Use Moodle to extend your classroom online.  Moodle is an online classroom application similiar to Blackboard.  Through Moodle you can provide your syllabi, provide important resources, use discussion boards, have classroom chat rooms, give quizes and assignments, and much, much more.  Imagine not having to make 500 copies of the periodic table this year simply because they can access it online when they need it.
  5. No more paper newsletters – Use e-mail and the school webpage to distribute school newsletters, announcements, reminders, fund raising materials, etc.  You should be able to reach the majority of your audience this way.  You’ll still need to provide paper for those with Internet access but it will mean a lot less printing and copying for your staff.

These are just some simple opportunites we should grasp in these tough times.  The forces causing our recession are beyond our control, we must play with the hand we are dealt.  But if we look hard enough and are willing to adapt that hand might hold fabulous cards.


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