School district has three-year technology plan

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 2/23/00.

At a recent school board meeting, the board approved a three-year technology plan that covers from 1999 to 2002.

"While there has been increased use of computers by staff and students, a significant portion of the computers are obsolete," the reports states. "Specifically they lack the RAM and hard drive capacity to run up-to-date instructional and productivity software, do not have CD-ROM capacity, do not have the speed and/or ability to adequately access the Internet, and are deteriorating into unrepairable condition."

The report also states a need to provide students with more computer access, in class and during study times. Currently, the school district has 82 Apple II, IIe, and IIgs computers; 47 Macintosh Classics and Pluses; 113 Macintosh IIsi and LCs; 12 Macintosh Powerbooks; 159 PowerMacs; and 92 DOS and Windows machines.

The ratio of students to multimedia capable computers is eight to one in the elementary school. In the middle school the ratio is 7.5 to one, and in the high school eight to one.

Other technology needs were identified as updates to the district's computer network, interactive television (ITV), and a new telephone system. ITV would allow the district to offer low-enrollment courses, like those for college credit. A new telephone system is needed to make communi-cations between the school sites more efficient and to provide voice mail.

Software needs, according to the plan, include instructional programs like Accelerated Math and Accelerated Reading, needed to prepare for the Minnesota Basic Skills Tests; multimedia software for use in presentations, desktop publishing, web page productions, and video production and editing; and standardizing versions of software programs in the district.

The plan targeted these areas for staff development: ClarisWorks, Internet navigating, e-mail, grading and record keeping programs, integrating tech-nology in the classroom, and training on new equipment.

The plan set these technology requirements. The district should upgrade all Macintosh computers to AppleWorks 6.0, have a minimum of one scanner and one projection device in each building, and upgrade the network capabilities.

The plan calls for the establishment of a multimedia capable computer lab in the elementary school, and a portable computer lab in the middle school and at least 15 computers in the middle school media center. The high school would need to have a multimedia capable computer lab, have a smaller lab for journalism and desktop publishing, upgrade the hard drives in the computer-aided drafting (CAD) lab, and have ITV.

The report states that local resources will not be able to finance the needs identified in the plan. Additional state or federal grant money is necessary in order to reach the majority of the goals in this plan, the report adds.

In January, the district made its first grant request to the state of Minnesota. The Department of Children, Families, and Learning offered $3.9 million in competitive grants for technology, and the Paynesville schools applied for a grant of over $160,000. Included in the grant request were updates for the CAD machines, more computers for the high school computer lab, and 30 iBooks for a mobile lab in the middle school. If the grant isn't approved, the district would try again later in the year.

The budget in the plan calls for $178,150 to be spent this school year, including a new computer lab in the elementary school.

In the 2000-2001 school year, $276,070 is budgeted for a new telephone system, network upgrades, an iBook lab in the middle school, and a new high school computer lab.

With $132,610 budgeted for 2001-2002, the three-year technology total is $586,830.

In addition, the report calls for technology needs to be addressed on a yearly basis, rather than every six years according to the curriculum cycle.

Serving on the technology committee are: staff members Joan Nevitt, Rita Brossard, Murry Rafferty, and Bill Brinkman; principals Todd Burlingame, Deb Gillman, and John Janotta; superintendent Howard Caldwell; school board chairman Pat Flanders; community member Lenny Gilmore; and curriculum and technology coordinator Danith Clausen.

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