As we’ve talked about before, Hillcrest High School in Riverside, California has state-of-the art facilities. But, it has no students. Financed with $105 million of bond money allocated in 2007, the school now lacks the $3 million it needs from the state to operate for one year. California state budget cuts of $18 billion, one-third of the state’s education funding, keep Hillcrest’s halls and classrooms empty.
In similar dire straits as California, Minnesota’s state government this summer borrowed $2.2 billion from its public schools to end a government shutdown. The state has not set a date by which to pay the schools back.
California and Minnesota reflect the unstable conditions of the education budgets of several states across the nation. With each successive year schools make larger cuts, cram more students into crowded classrooms, and lay off more faculty.
As the economy struggles to recover, schools need an immediate solution. With telepresence, school districts can make one-time investments that provide all of the equipment necessary to take students anywhere in the universe—other planets included. The expense of a telepresence installation pales in comparison to the funds needed to build Riverside’s Hillcrest High School, and it requires no ongoing money to rollout, change, enhance, and expand programming. I’ve written before about how telepresence technology takes students places that tight field trip budgets might not permit, and it bring students to classrooms where they access courses their schools don’t have the resources to offer.
It seems, in today’s economy, school districts can’t afford not to have telepresence connections. The technology stands to keep education afloat, to keep students learning by exposing them to the material they need to learn to become creative, analytical, capable contributors to society. I understand funds are tight, and it’s because of this tightness that education financing needs a new direction, with innovative investment options that further educational quality. Investing in telepresence leads to immediate, substantial educational returns that continue for years to come.
What do you think? Could telepresence help your local schools maintain their quality during difficult financial times?