Our elementary science program (or lack thereof) is at a crossroads. Five years ago---before there were state standards---it seemed good enough to just have some science happening prior to grade seven. There is a new ball game now. We have rules to follow. The "some science is better than no science" philosophy just ain't gonna cut it.
The kits our elementaries use for their science are delivered through an area consortium. The amount we pay to the consortium each year is the same as if we just bought a set of kits. In other words, we've bought these kits five times. We are not getting our money's worth. The consortium has also not delivered on its promise of staff development. It also wants to move forward with an alignment process with the kits---something teachers on my 6th grade materials' adoption group said was akin to "putting round pegs in square holes."
Tomorrow is the decision time. What will we do...and how much will it cost?
To tell the consortium that we will no longer take part in the alignment is no difference cost-wise. We would have to supply the subs either way. They have no plan for dealing with the alignment and how to handle problems that crop up. We do. And other districts are more likely to help us than work with the consortium.
If we buy the kits, that is a huge capital outlay---especially considering the idea that they won't likely deeply align with our state standards. Meanwhile, we would have to store, distribute, and restock these over the years. This requires manpower (salaries and benefits), among other costs. Some of this might be defrayed by an area military base outreach program. They, too, are unhappy with the consortium. Their $80K would go a long way toward fulfilling our goals.
Another science specialist and I will sit down tomorrow and draw up some budgets and make our recommendations. The superintendent is waiting to hear what the next moves will be. I think we're going to tell him that it's time to cut bait.