Monday, July 7, 2008

Classrooms for the Future Funding Cut in Half

The newly approved 2008-09 Pennsylvania budget includes $45 million for the third year of the "Classrooms for the Future" (CFF) project. That is exactly half the amount that Governor Rendell requested, and half the amount distributed to schools during the past school year. Another $15 million (up from $11 million last year) has been earmarked for staff development according to Forbes.com.

CFF is Governor Rendell's program to install "smart" classrooms in Pennsylvania high schools and to provide training to core subject teachers in Grades 9-12. Core subjects include English, social studies, math, and science. CFF is not considered a "technology" project but rather a means of reforming Pennsylvania high schools to prepare students for success in the 21st Century.

It remains to be seen how this budget will affect the funding we requested to expand our CFF project to our 11th and 12th grade core classes and to 9th grade social studies. We were hoping to equip eight additional classrooms at KHS with projectors, interactive whiteboards, and other "smart" equipment. We also planned to purchase four more portable laptop carts stocked with Macbooks.

My understanding when we submitted our request for a second year of funding was that if CFF made it through the Legislature's budget process, we were guaranteed funding at KHS. The question remains, "How much funding?"

I've also read that Governor Rendell hopes to expand CFF to a fourth year since he agreed to cut this year's allocation. CFF was originally intended to end after three years, but many districts (including all except Keystone in Clarion County) have yet to get involved.

I strongly believe that CFF is one of the most effective programs I've seen at KHS since I arrived in 1978! We have all learned so much, not only about how to use the new equipment, but also how to teach today's learners more effectively. These kids do not learn in the same ways we did in the 1960's and '70's (or even '80's or 90's!) Our CFF students did some outstanding work in the short time they had access to new software and equipment. And our teachers did some outstanding teaching as well!

CFF has been a tremendous amount of work for our administration, tech department, and for our teaching staff, but it has also been very rewarding. And the research being done at the state level is showing some exciting academic gains. I can't wait to get started with our second year!

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