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Educational TV Growing as Instructional Technique

March 17, 1970

First of a series

By Rowland Bond
Spokane Daily Chronicle

KSPS-TV is on the air!”

That was the announcement that started a new era in education for the people of the Inland Empire.

It came at 9:30 a.m. April 24, 1967, as the culmination of 15 years of effort on the part of educators and a citizens’ organization known as the Spokane Educational Television Committee.

Nearly three years later, educational television is being used in the daily instruction of 36,600 students in the city public schools and another 30,000 youngsters in schools throughout the Inland Empire.

Cable Facilities Used

Through cable facilities, it is being received in Oregon, Idaho, Montana and British Columbia. And regular reception in Montana may be established as a result of meetings scheduled between the Montana state superintendent of public instruction, Dr. Albert L. Ayars, Spokane superintendent, and Walter J. Schaar, general manager of KSPS-TV.

Like most new and old teaching techniques, educational television has come in for its share of criticism, even though public demand was influential in the activation of the station here.

However, much of the public criticism here has been directed at programs originating with the Ford Foundation-subsidized National Educational Television (NET). Classroom programs, such as the well-produced “Sesame Street” for juvenile audiences, have won enthusiastic approval.

Controversy Aroused

While some of the evening programs have aroused considerable controversy among adult viewers, there have been fewer complaints since Schaar was hired as general manager of KSPS a year ago. Robert H. Williams, assistant city school superintendent, supervises educational television as part of the total curriculum program.

When the possibility of using television as an educational tool first was discussed here by Supt. John A. Shaw and his successor William C. Sorenson, the medium was conceived as being self-supporting. It is quite likely that it never will be, but there is definite prospect of increased support from outlying schools.

Inflation Affects Cost

Educational television will cost approximately $448,880 for the period June 30, 1969 to June 30, 1970, according to the amount budgeted for the current school year. As Schaar has pointed out, inflation has struck educational television, too.

Income from cooperating school districts comes from an enrollment of 30,000 pupils at $1 per head, and this, Schaar has learned, is a charge that is too nominal, even though it is not expected to carry the load.

Last year, the total bill was $321,414. This compares with $310,489 in 1967-68 and $221,937 in the 1966-67 fiscal year, when the project was in the tooling stage and salaries represented an item of only $72,428. In this year’s budget, salaries account for $220,044.

Revenue in Prospect

At its present level of development, ETV probably has reached a plateau in operational expense. Inflation may force expenditures even higher, but there also is in prospect increased revenues as other school districts, particularly those in the Columbia Basin now subscribing to KCTS-TV (Seattle), decide to take on the younger, but effective, KSPS service.

KCTS is operated jointly by the Seattle schools, the University of Washington, King County and the Seattle Public Library. Its programs are being brought into Eastern Washington by a private firm operating a coaxial cable service on a basis that it is more costly than the present KSPS per-student charge.

It is coincidental but significant, and somewhat dismaying to Spokane school officials, that private cables feeding Oregon, Montana, parts of Washington and even British Columbia are able to pick up the KSPS Channel 7 programs.

“Many schools now subscribing to KCTS (Seattle) through a private cable could subscribe to our service and take us directly off the air,” Schaar said. “Instead of their money going to both KCTS and the common carrier, it could come entirely to us without the cost being split two ways. It would mean that we could use their money for the improvement of our programs.”

Tuesday, March 17, 1970

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From → KSPS

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