As schools across the country struggle with budget issues, the majority are looking squarely at one line item for control – paper. So information is now being made available via other means and it’s probably in your best interest to reset the browser’s home page to the school district website. Kids still come home from school on the first day with a backpack full of paperwork and parents are used to sitting down and culling through the chaff to get to those single pieces of wheat which really do concern them, but it’s afterwards that the paper usage is being truly controlled to save money. The upshot is that if you expect to see the information in the kids’ backpacks, then you’re liable to miss something important.
It was at a different event the other evening that someone shared a statistic that her spouse had picked up at a local school district staff meeting: if the district could cut it’s paper cost by 10%, the savings would be sufficient to fund the salaries and benefits of two additional teachers. So the hunt for eliminating paper usage continues in an era of budgetary constraints and it’s showing up here – or not, actually – in the household. School calendars sent to each household with a full complement of activities and events? Gone. Paper reminders from advisers? Gone. School planners for each student? Actually not, since the much-smaller and less costly planner was a train-wreck for kids who don’t have the capacity to write in very small print; this led to the re-introduction of the older and larger planners. If the schools are going to stress planning skills, then they have to at least give them something with which to work and the less-costly alternative was simply not functional.
The godsend however, is that the information is now being made available online and readily available, provided that the parents are willing to keep up with it. Site tabs lead to school lunch menus and athletic calendars, directories and a full gamut of district policies. Student and district achievements are touted routinely. But the real value of putting the district site on the browser homepage is in those announcements that make you appreciate the heads up, such as the announcement that Youngest’s school would be the site for after-school SWAT team training. Had I not seen the article yesterday morning, I would have been mightily surprised when one of Youngest’s friends told me last night that the SWAT team was there during his after-school football practice, a tragic training necessity given the times in which we live.
So for the next number of years, the browser’s home page will be set to the school district’s site and the only question will be with what is it replaced when we’ve finally got the kids through the educational pipeline. And for Middle, who might read this: whatever it is, it won’t be AARP.