I have written recently about how the state of Pennsylvania will be 1 billion dollars short in education funding in the upcoming school year. The ramifications of this shortfall are immense, but today I am not going to dwell on all of the possible negatives; today I want to discuss the possibilities that will open up in school districts across the State. Granted, the changes in schools that will result in a lack of funding will be extremely difficult to contemplate but our duty as educators and taxpayers is to move forward and continue to make sure that our children are receiving the best education possible. Today I will discuss repurposing in education.
Repurposing (according to Howard Bloom) is a word to describe the “radical change in the use of something”. For example, using a dictionary as a doorstop is a radical change from the original intended use of a dictionary. I believe that public education organizations will have to use repurposing in their relationship with the funds they receive from the State. Currently, the relationship (or purpose) of the money is to provide much the same education as has been in existence for close to 100 years. Academic programs “A,B, and C” are continued along with extracurricular programs “X,Y, and Z”. Over the years there have been minor changes and adjustments to the academic and extracurricular offerings, but there has never been a seismic jolt to this system. After all, the State provides money for “A, B, C and X, Y, Z”. In other words, the purpose of the money from the State is to keep the status quo and not change too much. I propose that public schools repurpose their relationship with State funds and view the money as a transformational tool. In Pennsylvania, the basic funding a school district receives from the State is called the “basic education funding” (which accounts for about 56% of funding for RASD). A repurposing look at school funding would call this “basic transformational education funding”. Let’s look at funding and all decisions that schools make as a chance to change the way schools provide education; where schools will provide education; to what purpose are they providing education; and how will the school organization change to meet these new needs. In a nutshell, this is the repurposing of school’s relationship with education funding.
At RASD the process of repurposing has started. Repurposing is grounded in the non-negotiable goals for student’s achievement and instruction set by the School Board one year ago. The school district has started to address the what, how, and where of education for the students of Ridgway. The Ridgway Virtual Academy is an example of how the school district will transform how students will be able to access the school district’s curriculum. The school district is also adjusting the curriculum and instruction to match the skills that students will need to become effective citizens in the 21st Century. Although I am worried about the ramifications of the 1 billion dollar shortfall in educational funding, I believe that our duty as educators is to attempt to change the framework from one of “deficit” into one of “surplus”.