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Updated Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 3 PM EST
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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 06/06/12
RCS board in favor of
$16.5 million tech bond
by CHRIS GRAYA $16.5 million technology bond for Romeo Community Schools is one step closer to being on the November ballot.
Observer Staff Writer
The Board of Education voted 7-0 on June 2 to have administrators apply for a millage proposal that would fund technology for the next eight years. If given the go-ahead by the state, the board must vote in August to approve the ballot language to have it placed before voters in November.
Administrators presented the bond after a year of working with the district's Educational Technology Leadership Team. Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Eric Whitney said technology and its role in the world is changing, and education needs to keep up to ensure students are prepared.
"I really do believe that our educational system is preparing our kids for a world that does not exist if we don't adapt and move forward," he said.
He cited the example of assessments being administered online in 2014, saying young students should be comfortable with using technology before taking such exams.
If approved, the millage would last for a total of eight years and four months. During that time, the average millage amount would be 1.52, with the first year at 1.32 mills.
Dave Massoglia, executive director of business affairs, said thanks to outstanding bonds from 2008 maturing, the district's total debt millage would be at 4.05 mills if the tech bond were passed<a decrease from the current 4.2 debt millage.
"What we're saying is that this would result in no new tax increase for our taxpayers," he said.
Mark Nelson, executive director of technology, said 79 percent of the funds would be dedicated to technology upgrades either in the classroom or directly in the students' hands. Another 10 percent would update the district's wireless network, while the remaining 11 percent funds electrical and building projects necessary for the upgrades.
"It was always stressed that the most important component is to get the technology into the hands of students and the teachers because of the way education has changed," Nelson said.
Nelson said the bond would benefit every single student in the district. He said the largest portion of the purchases would be personal learning devices for each student to use and potentially take home, though the device has yet to be chosen.
"Every device will be Internet capable, district provided, district maintained and district supported," Nelson said.
To run such devices, the bond would pay for creating a district-spanning wireless network. Nelson called current network "sporadic" and that it should be upgraded. Other purchases would include interactive projection systems for all classrooms and a video distribution system that would allow teachers to broadcast videos. The bond includes one refresh cycle of the technology halfway through the millage's duration.
Board President Anita Banach expressed excitement in the idea of all students having an equal chance to use technology despite a tough economy.
"I love that it fits within our current millage rate, so during this economic time you're really asking people to have faith in where we're going," she said.
Should voters pass the proposal, bonds would be sold as soon as January 2013, with the summer of 2013 dedicated to installing the wireless network. The first phase of distributing devices would be in September of the same year.