Funding for education initiatives is not just a school district or state issue, it is national one. The current state of our workforce, with consistently changing technology and a push for computer science skills, is demanding a shift in education and the programs provided for students.
Laura Spence, a K-12 STEM Specialist for Pinellas County Schools in Largo, Florida, is familiar with the direction that STEM is heading in, both in education and the workforce. Her career has been dedicated to it. But in trying to bring STEM programs to her students, she’s faced the challenges of funding STEM resources.
Several consistent methods of funding are available, such as grants, but to make room for more qualified staff and focused programs, funding has to get creative. On today’s podcast, Spence breaks down how important community engagement is for bringing STEM to schools. Since the world today has a high demand for STEM skills, Spence has found power in educating parents, other educators, community leaders and businesses to help fund their programs.
Another surprising way Pinellas County Schools managed to find funds for STEM education came from more intentional facility management.
“Districts and schools often struggle with budget management in general,” Spence said.
Pinellas County found a way to save $20 million by taking an in-depth look at the amount of money that was being wasted through inefficient energy use.
The county partnered with Cenergistic to help them take a closer look at their facility management and energy use, and because of the partnership and money saved, Pinellas County Schools won the Energy Star Partner of the Year award.
Spence has taken this award and other community engagement wins and helped set a standard for how school districts can find grass-roots, creative and responsible ways to fundraise for STEM initiatives. Listen to Spence explain how STEM education can be applied to multiple settings and is applicable in the real world, and why even a small start with funding is a big step in the right direction.
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