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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 09/12/12
Bond could give broader
access to technology
by CHRIS GRAYRomeo Community Schools administrators are saying a proposed bond would eliminate gaps of technology inequity for students.
Observer Staff Writer
Administrators received word during the last week of August that state officials approved of the nine-year bond, meaning it will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Mark Nelson, executive director of technology, said during a presentation at the Sept. 4 Board of Education meeting that the bond proposal stems from the district's Strategic Plan, which calls for a one-to-one implementation of technology.
He said the plan seeks to address the problem of inequity, meaning regardless of factors like age or socio-economic standing, a student should have technology available to them.
"When the student enters our classrooms they should have exactly the same opportunities and exactly the same access," he said.
Nelson said this meant every student would have a wireless device capable of connecting to the Internet. He said the general fund and fundraising efforts have provided some technology needs, but the tight budget cannot support this goal.
"It's obvious that the general fund will not be able to carry out and support this vision," he said.
The district will have two bonds retiring this year, one for the Romeo Engineering and Technology Center and one for Hevel Elementary.
Because of this, the district is calling the tech bond a "no increase" proposal.
"Those dollars will be retired and this could be a reinvestment of the current dollars that are paid," Nelson said.
Nelson said 79 percent of the collected funds would go toward classroom investments like the student devices and projector systems.
Another 11 percent would take care of setting up a network for the devices, while 10 percent would fund upgrades to electrical systems.
Nelson said the current network is 10 years old and in need of replacement. He said if approved, the plan is to wait until the summer to install the new network.
The bond also has a refreshment plan built into it that would replace the devices after four years.
As for the devices themselves, Nelson said the plan on whether students take them home hasn't been fully fleshed out yet, nor has the type of device been chosen.
However, he said a technology showcase will be held just before one of the board's October meetings to demonstrate what the bond could provide.
Nelson said the district is also looking to become one of 20 Project Revolutionizing Education (RED) signature districts in the nation. Such districts receive support and resources from Project RED, which focuses on one-to-one deployment of technology.
"That's for true transformational innovation in education because these students will have 24/7 access to all information all the time, and most importantly the work that their teachers want them to do," he said.
A parent support group has been formed to educate the community about the bond. The group utilizes a format similar to the district's sinking fund committee with three co-chairpersons.
Nelson said the co-chairs have experience in areas like information technology, parent teacher organizations and technology bond proposals. The group meets 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays at the Community Center on Morton Street.
To contact the parent group, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.