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Posted: 01/08/14

RCS to roll out tech
and buses in the new year

Observer Staff Writer
      The Romeo Community Schools district is looking to implement technology, buses and green initiatives in the coming year.
       Superintendent Nancy Campbell said one of the main issues the district will address in 2014 is the distribution of student devices through the $16.4 million technology bond.
       The district gave Chromebooks to students in grades 6-12 in late 2013. This year, more than 2,000 iPad Airs purchased for $1.6 million will be given to K-5 students. The iPad distribution has been delayed from the estimated January date due to setting up the devices.
       "I'm really looking forward to how teaching and learning are going to change with the technology," she said. "My wish for the new year is the integration of technology into the classroom."
       Campbell said two classrooms will be set up as prototypes to determine the optimal set up for all the new technology, including items like projectors.
       "I don't want people to think we'll get new furniture," she said. "We'll set up classrooms with technology that are conducive to new styles of learning."
       The tech bond may also fund a new phone system for the district. The request for proposal will go out this year with the expectation of installing the system before June.
       The results of other bond issues will be seen this year as new buses roll into the district as early as February. A dozen buses, purchased for $2.4 million, are expected to arrive to replace some of the oldest buses in the district.
       Campbell said the old buses may be part of a community auction, wherein the district will sell everything from furniture to musical equipment to any interested parties as a way to bring in revenue. The district would hire a company to facilitate the auction itself.
       "We would tell all our staff look in every nook and cranny and look at the things that you're not using," she said.
       As for any future bonds, Campbell said she will address a facilities bond when presenting an update of the district's strategic plan, asking the Board of Education on how she should proceed.
       In the meantime, the board has approved of a list of $1.9 million in sinking fund projects that are expected to begin this year, including a generator at Hamilton-Parsons Elementary and parking lot expansions at Indian Hills Elementary. Security upgrades at the Croswell Center will go back out for bid this year.
       Campbell said it is too early to know what the district's budget is going to look like, but is hopeful of seeing some savings through green initiatives. The Romeo High School and Romeo Engineering and Technology Center are currently piloting an energy savings program.
       "There are several thousand dollars that have already been saved," she said. "If this program is successful, our board said they would entertain the idea of expanding it throughout the district."
       For curriculum, the district is investigating Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) opportunities for students, having held a successful pilot at Romeo Middle School.
       In a similar vein, Campbell said she is working on partnerships to teach Chinese to students and even bring Chinese students to the district.
       An educational exploration day will be held Jan. 30 for families with students in grades 5-10 who can attend to learn about the various programs offered in the district.

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