Basic Needs Referendum: A Focus on Technology

Visit a classroom today, and you will see how much education has changed from 50, 25, and even as little as 10 years ago. Technology is a large part of our lives both outside and inside the classroom. Gadgets that didn’t exist 10 years ago are indispensible tools today that are used at home and in the workforce.

On Tuesday, April 6, 2010 residents will have the opportunity to vote on two referenda questions, each to address basic needs in the Green Bay Public Schools. Question 1 requests permission to borrow $11 million for urgent facility repairs throughout our schools, and Question 2 requests permission to borrow $5.7 million to address significant technology needs. Each question must be voted on independently.

Because of budget shortfalls due to the state funding formula and unfunded mandates, the district has been unable to maintain its technology replacement schedule and now has more than 5,000 computers (about half in the district) greater than five years old, with several up to nine years old. When the district upgrades to Windows 7 in the coming years, up to 75 percent of the computers will not be able to be upgraded because of their operating systems.

These older computers affect student learning in many ways:

  • Newer software runs poorly, or won’t run at all.
  • Computers have insufficient memory and/or processing speed for current uses.
  •  Computers become less reliable, so teachers and technical staff waste instructional time troubleshooting, or just avoid using equipment because of lack of reliability.

The district needs to update its technology to remain competitive with surrounding districts. When new families look at are schools, what do we want them to see?

Why do schools need wireless?
With more educational resources available through the Internet and on our network, wireless network access would increase student learning opportunities. Through the use of designated federal funds (Title I), 12 of the district’s elementary schools are already equipped with school-wide wireless access. These schools are models of “anytime, anywhere” learning, and have created a large technology gap in the district. The remaining schools are using computers on wheels, or “COWS.” The problem with COWS is if a teacher needs to use the wireless and a couple laptops, they need to take the whole COW into their classroom, prohibiting other teachers from using the remaining computers. Currently wireless is available only in the classroom the COW is in. Building-wide wireless access would result in:

  • Use of district laptops, netbooks, and handheld devices for instruction anywhere in the building.
  • Alleviate problems associated with scheduling labs by creating reliable alternatives in classrooms.
  • Combined with other network improvements, students and staff could use personal devices for instructional use.

 Of course, all Internet access within district buildings would be filtered for appropriate content.

What is classroom technology and why is it important?
Currently every classroom has a computer for the teacher to use primarily for administrative purposes. Classrooms in 14 of the district’s elementary schools, which receive federal Title I funding, have been equipped with a mounted projector and digital document camera connected to the classroom computer. Referendum funds would be used to equip the remaining 22 district schools. These tools would:

  • Provide a much more useful set of instructional tools in the classroom. The digital document camera can be used not only to share materials, but teachers can perform lab experiments and do demonstrations projected on the screen.
  • Give the ability for the teacher to share network, Internet, and classroom-based materials with student.
  • Serve as a platform for the integration of other future instructional technologies.
  • Provide the seamless use of technology in the classroom – giving the teacher more time for instruction.

Make an Informed Decision
We urge all residents to learn more about the proposed referenda, ask questions, and be prepared to make an informed decision on Tuesday, April 6th. The second informational meeting will be held at 6:00 pm on March 30 at East High School. Residents can also log on to the District’s website anytime at http://www.greenbay.k12.wi.us/basicneedsreferendum or e-mail referendum@greenbay.k12.wi.us with questions.

Advertisements
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: