In order for education to function in today’s society many support systems are necessary to provide a healthy and educationally conducive learning environment. These systems are essential and should be in place whether the instruction provided to the students occurs online or in traditional school setting. In Townley and Schmieder-Ramirez the following support systems, transportation, maintenance and food service are mentioned as essential (2015).
According to Townley and Schmieder-Ramirez (2015) “A year of bus service cost an average of $1,400 per student in urban districts and more than $900 in rural districts” (p. 133). Having said this, Townley and Schmieder-Ramirez point out that in California the percentage of students who ride school buses is the lowest of any state with only 16% riding school buses compare to the national average of 54%. Because of this the School Transportation Coalition (STC) has mentioned that California “was facing a school transportation crisis” (Townley & Schmieder-Ramirez, 2015, p. 133). For this reason one way that a transportation system would support an online learning environment is through using the transportation system to get students to learning environments where they can have access to the tools necessary for online learning. Another way transportation systems can support online learning is through using some of those funds currently use for transportation to provide students with access to technology at their residence. Unfortunately this last example would take away a students ability to socialize face to face with other students, but there have been cases of this not being an issue. For example in Long Island has attended school through a robot (Alexandra Klausner, 2014).
Maintenance and Operations
Townley and Schmieder-Ramirez (2015) point out that there is a distinction between maintenance and operations. Maintenance refers to the department that “repairs and replaces buildings and equipment” (Townley & Schmieder-Ramirez, 2015, p. 141), while operations refers to “the district’s housekeeping routines that keep school plants functional” (Townley & Schmieder-Ramirez, 2015, p. 141). Maintenance and operations can support an online learning environment by providing students and the community with places where students can feel proud to attend. It can also promote the use of such type of learning environments because “The physical appearance of the school building is often a home buyer’s first evidence of the quality of a district’s schools” (Townley & Schmieder-Ramirez, p. 141). If homebuyers were attracted by the appearance of the learning environment they would be more willing to support these types of learning system. Personally, I have been present when a leaky roof has prevented students from completing a lesson until maintenance was able to fix it, which shows the importance of keeping facilities in an effective working condition.
When it comes to food and nutrition Townley and Schmieder-Ramirez (2015) point out that “This nation recognized more than a half century ago the importance of providing at least one nutritious meal a day” (p. 157). The reason being that we recognize as educators that a student who is hungry is a student who will be busy thinking about their basic needs to learn. The questions that are raised when discussing an online learning environment and food nutrition are several. From how will a child who stays at home to get educated be able to eat enough during the day if the school cafeteria is no longer available? According to Townley and Schmieder-Ramirez (2015) the USDA “department estimates that 11% of families went hungry at least part of the time” (p. 154). With these many families going hungry will new support systems have to be in place to support online learning communities? One solution that has risen due to students going hungry over summer breaks is the mobile school cafeteria. According to Ted Burnham (2012) some “brightly painted truck handed out 17,000 meals in just 20 days” (para. 6). As our educational system begins to evolve because of the rise of affordable technology there will also have to be a shift in how these support services that traditional schools now provide are designed.
Burnham, T. (2012, May 30). Food Trucks Draw Hungry Kids For Free Summer Meals. Retrieved June 20, 2015, from http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/05/29/153931434/food-trucks-draw-hungry-kids-for-free-summer-meals
Klausner, A. (2014, November 23). The most popular bot in school! Sick boy goes to school as a ROBOT and interacts with students and teachers via computer. Retrieved June 20, 2015, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2845762/The-popular-bot-school-Sick-boy-goes-school-ROBOT-interacts-students-teachers-computer.html
Townley, A.J., & Schmieder-Ramirez, J.H. (2015). School Finance: A California Perspective (10th ed.). Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.