TE School District discusses laptops for teachers and students in grades 7-12 (Initial Cost: $1.8 million)

laptop stackThe TE School District’s Education Committee meeting included a surprising (and expensive) item on the agenda – the proposal to outfit all teachers and grade 7-12 students with District issued laptops.

A few short weeks ago, the school board approved a preliminary budget which included a 4.3% tax increase. With that unanimous vote, the Board assured the residents that expenses would be thoroughly reviewed ‘line by line’ in the coming months. And then we learn this week that this same board is discussing spending an estimated $1.8 million on teacher and student laptops. Where’s the fiscal responsibility?

Setting aside the expense of the laptops, is there research indicating this is a current school district need?  Don’t the majority of the teachers and students in the District already have computers? If a need for a computer exists with any of the students, it certainly should be met but has anyone polled the students/parents? What level of laptops are proposed? My guess is that many of our students and teachers already own a higher quality of computers than the District is proposing.

And what about liability issues that could arise with giving our students computers? Remember the Lower Merion scandal and subsequent lawsuit over district-supplied computers and the webcam spying on students. How will TE parents know that their children are protected from something similar? No one wants to believe that these things could happen in TE, but has the school board thought about security measures to protect the privacy of the students.

Because I did not attend the Education Committee meeting, I wanted to know if other residents shared my concerns.  Resident Doug Anestad attended and provides the following update for Community Matters:

The administration would like to buy a laptop for every teacher and student in grades 7-12 in what is commonly called one-to-one laptop program. They would roll it out over a three years. Each laptop would cost about $400 and they would purchase a 4 year warranty and accidental damage protection for $200 for a total cost of $600.

The school district just finished rolling out bring your own device (BYOD). However, they argue that it is not ideal because
– No expectation that all students will have a device
– No expectation that all devices will be the same
– Transformative on individual level
– Supplemental devices needed if instruction requires device
– Focus on device over instruction

They argue that 1:1 would be beneficial because
– Expectation that all students will have a device
– Expectation that all devices will be the same
– Transformative on class level
– Supplemental devices not needed
– Focus on instruction over device

As each laptop will cost around $600 ($400 + $200) and there are almost 3,000 students and teachers in grades 7-12, you are talking of a roll-out cost of around $1.8 million ($600 x 3,000). After the initial roll-out, I estimate would be an ongoing cost of around $450,000 ($1.8 every 4 years). These costs do not include software nor administrative overhead costs.

I find it disappointing that the education committee voted to proceed with this project right after the school board voted to approve a preliminary budget that increases our taxes 4.3% while still showing a projected deficit of $468,118.

I was a teacher for a decade. I taught grades 7-12. I taught math, science, and computer science. With the obvious exception of computer science, I never felt the need for the students to have computers every day.

I believe that teachers should have smart boards and laptops and should have access to either laptop carts or computer labs on those days when computers would be helpful. I also support the Office 365 initiative as it allowed all students to have access to the same software so that documents can be exchanged with fellow students and teachers as well as allowing shared documents.

I cannot however, support this abuse of taxpayer money when there is so much financial uncertainty and after so many massive tax increases over the past decade that show no sign of slowing down.

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  1. I would like to point out that they undermined their own bullet “ Expectation that all devices will be the same” by saying that they can save money because they might not have to purchase laptops for some students because some students buy more powerful Macs laptops for the visual arts classes.

    You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that all students will have the same device and then turn around and say that you can save money by students already having a laptop with a different operating system.

    In this example, to truly have “ Expectation that all devices will be the same”, you would force those students that already have a more powerful laptop to also have the less powerful school district laptop with them every school day.

    Yes, they would be forced to carry around two laptops. If you don’t force that, then you have to acknowledge that “ Expectation that all devices will be the same” is completely false.

    Again, you can’t have it both ways. Logic should dictate that.

    [Reply]

  2. Thank-you Pattye and Doug.

    IAL so attended the Education Committee meeting discussing the Technology Access initiative.

    Doug states that there are 3,000 students and teachers in grade 7-12. There are around 5,000 students (not including teachers) in grade 7-12; between 2,100 and 2,400 at CHS, and at least 1,000 at each Middle school.(probably more because it was reported that TE middle school had their highest enrollment numbers ever last year.)

    5,000 x $600.00 = $3,000,000. That would increase Doug’s ongoing cost of $450,000 too.

    Cost is a huge issue and since it’s a multi million dollar issue requires a referendum.

    The Administration argues the BYOD (Bring your own Device)is not ideal for the reasons listed above.

    They left out the most important reason BYOD isn’t working.

    The students don’t log onto the Wi fi system because they know their files are not safe, they know they are not secure, and they know their information is open for review at anytime.

    When the few who log on to the system are made aware that their files are not safe, they stop using it too.

    Cost aside, this initiative has no practical value or meaning because it is highly questionable that the students will use it.

    And the real question is, why isn’t the Administration talking about that?

    In closing, in advocating for this initiative, an ex Board Member stated,

    “We’re the number 1 school District in the country and we don’t have laptops.

    I say the same thing,

    “We’re the number one school district in the country and we don’t have laptops.”

    [Reply]

    Doug Anestad Reply:

    Based on the demographers report, for 2015, there are 511 students in 7th grade, 542 students in 8th grade, and 2,066 students in 9-12 for a total of 3,119 students. So you are correct, I was a bit low in my estimate. For 3,119 students, I would estimate somewhere around 200 teachers for a grand total of around 3,319 laptops. At $600 a piece, you are talking about $2 million.

    I think you might have included the 5th and 6th graders in your estimates.

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    Yes, you are correct, I included the 5th and 6th graders in my estimates. Thanks.

    [Reply]

  3. Can someone please shed some light on the above comment from Mr. Anstead:

    “I cannot however, support this abuse of taxpayer money when there is so much financial uncertainty and after so many massive tax increases over the past decade that show no sign of slowing down.”

    What are the “massive tax increases” that he is describing? The increase this past year was about $200/year on average. This does not seem “massive”.

    Shining Light and Pattye raise some very good points above re: Wi-Fi access and privacy. Those would be of more concern to me than a tax increase to the citizens of one of the wealthiest districts in the state.

    To be clear I am advocating against my own financial interests with the above comments.

    [Reply]

    Doug Anestad Reply:

    To help with my tax statement, here is a table that has the school year, millage rate, % T/E tax increase, and Consumer Price Index (CPI) % increase for the past 10 years.

    2006-07 15.7300 4.0% 3.2%
    2007-09 16.2600 3.4% 2.8%
    2008-09 16.9700 4.4% 3.8%
    2009-10 17.4700 2.9% -0.4%
    2010-11 17.9700 2.9% 1.6%
    2011-12 18.6474 3.8% 3.2%
    2012-13 19.2628 3.3% 2.1%
    2013-14 19.5902 1.7% 1.5%
    2014-15 20.2171 3.2% 1.6%
    2015-16 20.9868 3.8% 0.1%

    Our school taxes have risen almost 40% in the past 10 years.

    Are the table shows, the T/E school district has been raising taxes at almost twice the rate of inflation for the past decade. They are proposing another 4.3% increase this coming year that is probably more than twice the rate of inflation.

    Raising taxes are twice the rate of inflation is just not sustainable in the long term.

    Going back to your example with actual dollars, our school taxes have increased from $3,970 per year to $5,297 per year over the past decade for the average assessment. Therefore, we are paying $1,327 more per year over the past decade.

    I plan on staying in this district for at least another 30 years. If the tax increases stay on the same course, a home owner will be paying almost $15,000 a year in school taxes for the average assessment.

    [Reply]

  4. Here comes another expense from an Administration and Board that has not met an spending program that it does not like or ask taxpayers to fund. Perhaps last year’s bond proceeds are burning a hole in their pocket. (And how are those once in a lifetime low interest rates comparing to today’s?). That $2 million BYOD program isn’t working out, so let’s try another couple of million?

    There seems to be a general fashion among school districts to provide kind of computing tools. Unionville is piloting a program to provide Chromebooks to high schoolers full time and to middle schoolers while at school. But at the same time they are asking the pilot to answer very specific questions, like:
    – Is there improved student achievement?
    – Is there greater efficiency in the classroom?
    – Is there improved research and information fluency?
    – What do parents, students and teachers think of the pilot?
    – What are the total infrastructure costs?
    – Is the Chromebook the right device?

    In the meantime, TE Administration provides a lesson to the Education Committee in how to prepare powerpoints with fancy graphics.

    In an era when billions of computers across the globe running a myriad of operating systems, web browsers and office applications can all order from the same Amazon site, view the same Khan Academy video and write a letter to their grandma, does TE have to provide and support the same hardware solution for everyone? Suppose the benefits are proven and accepted (if they are), what are the specific (district, parental, other) alternatives for getting the hardware to students and what exactly are their – quantitated, tangible – pros and cons? And if there is a cost to the district, what actual program savings or tax increases will fund that expense?

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    I like Rays points.

    Please read http://www.unionvilletimes.com/?p=28113

    The UCF Supt. says they will not rush through this. A board member is concerned about a proposal to charge families a $75.00 fee in order to keep district costs down. A TE Board Member also suggested a $75.00 TE parent fee on Wed. night. Parents will be asked to fund this project on both ends, in the form of increased taxes and a pocket payout at the time of issue.

    Our taxes have been raised 40% over the last 10 years and:

    Aides and paras are outsourced
    Tenig suffered a $3M pay cut
    The language program was cut
    Students pay for uniforms, parking fees and activity fees
    The Community is asked to 100% fund organizations that the District Partners with for educational information benefiting students and parents.

    Where do tax increases and savings from outsourcing and TENIG pay cuts go?

    $6M maintenance building
    fencing no one wants
    $22,000 per year pay increase for the Bus. Manager bringing his pay to more than the highest paid governor in the country
    Raises and bonuses for Administrators
    increase in the number and rank of Administrators at District Offices who create elaborate presentations asking tax payers to pay more.

    UCF Board Member Carolyn Daniels references a Curriculum Council when describing the recommendation to go forward with their project to provide every student in middle and high school with a Chromebook. I’ve heard there is a tech committee in our district that consists of teachers and Administrators. I have asked the Director of Technology repeatedly for the member list which he refuses to provide. Parents and Students should be on this committee. A project this size and this costly demands collaboration from all segments, especially the segment paying for it.

    In closing, this is moving too quickly and excluding members of the community and parents from the decision making process.

    As a UCF Board Member pointed out, this is not a one time lump sum pay out. This is a financial commitment because technology changes all the time and we’ll have to keep up with it.

    [Reply]

  5. A few more comments about the meeting. Board members seem enthralled with this project. Doug brought to light great points and backed them up with handouts verifying his information.

    http://www.wnyc.org/story/why-hoboken-throwing-away-all-its-student-laptops/

    -We had “half a dozen kids in a day, on a regular basis, bringing laptops down, going ‘my books fell on top of it, somebody sat on it, I dropped it,’ ” said Crocamo.We bought laptops that had reinforced hard-shell cases so that we could try to offset some of the damage these kids were going to do,” said Crocamo. “I was pretty impressed with some of the damage they did anyway. Some of the laptops would come back to us completely destroyed.”

    Hoboken school officials were also worried they couldn’t control which websites students would visit. Crocamo installed software to block pornography, gaming sites and Facebook. He disabled the built-in web cameras. He even installed software to block students from undoing these controls. But Crocamo says students found forums on the Internet that showed them how to access everything.

    A citizen talked about the Smart Board program where PTO mom’s worked long and hard through fund raising efforts to provide $3,000 to $5,000 Smart Boards for every class room in schools. She noted that some teachers use the Smart Boards, but many sit as dust collectors in classrooms where teachers prefer to use other teaching methods that don’t include Smart Boards.

    I talked about privacy issues where students don’t log on to the wi fi system now because they know their information is not safe and not secure and that it can be viewed at any time. We talked about the Webcam disaster in L.M. where the district shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars in payouts and lawyer fees. We discussed verifiable, scenarios where kids put illicit, illegal material on school issued laptops in other districts and the consequences of this to families.

    The Board gave no comment to the points citizens made. One looked to her left and right and stated that “I think we’re all for this and excited about it.” And gave Administrators permission to bring them more information selling the program. I was stunned.

    Chairman Scott Dorsey changed the start time to 5:00P.M. from the regular 1:00P.M. due to a conflict in his schedule attracting more citizens than usual. I like the 5:00 start time. I see the March Education Committee meeting is back to the 1:00P.M. start time. I hope citizens can make it.

    [Reply]

  6. I am not usually one to comment, but this is something that really worries me. I was bothered by the cost of the maintenance building, but could live with it in the end because it is something I feel is needed. I can justify that knowing the amount of money we save by having an in house team of skilled tradesmen. I know they make it possible to keep a lot of projects in house at a very reasonable rate ($25 an hour?). I also recently learned that every maintenance truck is equipped with a plow. Can you think of the money we probably saved during the last storm.

    Anyway, from a close friend in the district, I know that nearly two million dollars was spent over the last three years to have this new wireless network. After all the money and time spent, it wasn’t ready on time and as far as I know, there are still major issues with it. I hear that the service is inconsistent, that many frequently used programs are not accessible because of network restrictions, and a whole slew of other problems. Before we can even think about spending money on laptops for all, I would like to hear a report on how all of our past technology upgrade investments have faired. Is the network working and being used? What about all of these iPads and tablets and lap top carts? What’s the plan for implementation? I feel this is a reaction to other area districts having laptops or tablets for all of their students and not part of a plan to improve our education system in TE.

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    Doug,

    I attended the Finance Committee meeting last night at TEAO. Citizens were rebuked more than once for mentioning the proposed muti million dollar computer initiative. I asked the Chair about your comments regarding the wireless network that,

    “it wasn’t ready on time, the service is inconsistent, that many frequently used programs are not accessible because of network restrictions, and a whole slew of other problems. Before we can even think about spending money on laptops for all, I would like to hear a report on how all of our past technology upgrade investments have faired. Is the network working and being used? What about all of these iPads and tablets and lap top carts?” Because I hear the same things from students who try to use it: it doesn’t work.

    I asked the Chair to comment on it to which she turned to the Supt. and asked him how it was working and he said it was working fine. I started to ask the chair if she goes in the schools and if she talks to students about it but she talked over me, and that was it, she accepted the Supt.’s report that it works fine, the 20 second discussion was over and we returned, silently listening to Art justify the 4.3%tax increase it looks like to me is inevitable.

    I won’t go off topic on this thread and talk about the finance meeting because this thread is about the laptop initiative but I encourage all who were there to give impressions about the meeting.

    The heat fan was silent, completely silent and the air conditioner did not kick on, forcing attendees in a cycle of pulling coats on and off through out the meeting.

    [Reply]

  7. From what I read on other public school websites in reference to their BYOD and 1:1 laptop pilots is that the main purpose is for students and teachers to access the same portal/network. Once on the student can navigate to their classes and folders. I suggest every student use their own or if not able to have access similar to the ones on the carts and in the library.

    It is the ability to sign on the network to interact with other students and teachers on assignments, testing and posting as well as sharing comments that seems to be the critical point? All good stuff. Every college does it. Some teachers use it more than others. Some use online classes and online books along with the one stop learning portal. However, the same size does not fit all. Students and families should have choice. Opt in or out or use your own device. (Chromebook is about 149.00 on Google with Dells about 600.00).

    The second thought is acquiring 3000 laptops for students and staff will require more IT support and security surveillance. Some schools have larger It departments and more staff for the user for hand holding. Will there be a 1800 number for 24/7 support?

    Third, the cost of educational software and staff training and the Teacher buy in is critical. I am sure particular teachers, subjects and students lend themselves to different use or non use of the software programs.
    Thanks for the great power points and citations. but it would be more helpful with costs and projection on lost, damage, theft as well as other IT costs of hiring IT staff.

    I suggest keep it simple and note their is some advantage for some students as well as risks. It should be a cost/benefit analysis on the power points showing how we pay for it and sustain it for next 5 years.
    It is all good. It is all better with actual projections on the budget power points :)

    [Reply]

    Liz Capozzi Mercogliano Reply:

    Update-
    1. many schools have gone to 1:1 laptops
    2. TE needs 1000 for 9th and 10th graders
    3. HP, Dell or Lenova type products, 11 inch screen, 3 lbs., these suggested models can be supported with current TE software programs for student privacy and security.
    4. Estimated costs are $400 a piece, add possible additional $200.00 for insurance for theft, lost, damage to unit. Insurance does not cover intentional damage.
    5, BYOD will not stop, success (user numbers?)
    6. teachers in general have laptops as tools already
    7. TE Technology committee meets and is made up of teachers currently using technology in the classroom
    8. TE has educational software already purchased to use with new 1:1 computer
    9. for the start up 1:1 plan there is estimated costs of a
    300,000 per year for 3 years. This costs is offset by the about 100,000.00 (used for replacement of cart laptops and library PCs.
    10. Cost savings on paper printing and ink could be significant in the long run.
    11. the funds are out of the daily operating budget

    Excuse any inaccurate memory or understanding.
    Please call TE 610-240-1900 and ask for Director of technology. He is happy t0 answer questions or concerns.

    [Reply]

  8. Doug S,

    Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you have great information from a reliable source.

    I don’t think anyone disputes that we needed a maintenance building. Did we have to spend $4.8 on it that will cost $6M to repay?

    How is having an in house team of skilled tradesman connected to the $6M maintenance building? Can’t we have in house skilled tradesman and a $2M to $3M maintenance building? How are maintenance trucks and plows connected to the need to construct a $6M maintenance building?

    I am very curious about the new Maintenance Building. Maybe the Board can organize an open house and a Ribbon cutting ceremony so we can all go a view the building. Maybe when I see it, I will understand the need for it.

    [Reply]

  9. Shining Light,

    I am not saying that we need a building for four million dollars, six million dollars, or two million dollars. I honestly don’t know what a reasonable price for that type of facility would be based on size, features, and function. You are obviously a lot more knowledgeable and involved in this issue than I am. I am just saying that I am okay with my tax money being spent on a new facility. Of course, if it could be done for two million instead of four, I’d want that. I didn’t say I was happy with the cost, I said I can live with it. Obviously you can’t, and I understand that.

    Having a qualified plumber, electrician, carpenter, etc that can attend to everyday problems and small projects (not ones that require large scale construction) is something I’d rather have, especially at $25 an hour, than not. I am sure they can’t maintain all eight schools on their own and use outside contractors regularly, but I imagine having a full maintenance staff saves us a considerable amount of money every year. I know that when I have contractors at my house, I am paying more than that, and that’s residential work. So, having a maintenance department and not outsourcing all of the work is something I want. In order to maximize their worth, they need a proper facility. Working out of a dilapidated building that was used to repair buses is not a proper facility. Again, if the proper facility could be built for two million, that’s what I’d want.

    I also brought up plowing for the same reason. I imagine we save money by having our own plowing unit instead of paying for it. Having a central storage facility can save money if it streamlines the purchasing process. I guess I am justifying the cost of the maintenance building with all the money that can be saved by in the long run by having our own staff and proper space. We already owned the property and we needed to demolish or update that building. If I had to choose between spending money on a new building vs. leaving our maintenance staff without a home and proper workspace which could lead to the elimination of that group, I’d choose the building. I obviously wasn’t clear in my post, but my reasoning for bringing up the maintenance and storage building was that I never commented on any of the articles because I was in favor of it and never read enough evidence that convinced me that the cost of the building was excessive. Of course I could be wrong, the cost could be excessive and the value of having our own maintenance department could be overestimated. Like I said, you are more informed than I am, and may have information that would change my mind.

    Anyway, I don’t want to turn this thread into a discussion about the maintenance building. As I said, I commented on this article because I want more information about spending two million dollars on laptops for all before it’s even considered. I am skeptical about this because of what I’ve heard about the implementation and use of previous technology investments. From what I’ve heard, new technology or programs seem to have a big rollout and then are forgotten about after a year. There seems to be no follow up or long term plan. Not every teacher is required to use the technology and most who do don’t use it for the intended purposes. Again, that’s based on what I’ve heard. Although, I trust my friend and have no reason to believe they would lie to me. It could be a problem just at her building, but it doesn’t seem to be. In addition, I mentioned the debacle that was the wireless network rollout. I can see laptops for all being a good investment, but I don’t trust the district to develop and implement a long term plan that will make it one.

    [Reply]

  10. Doug S,

    Thanks for your comment. As I said, I did not and do not dispute the need for a maintenance building.

    The district spent $1M to $3M (depending on who you talk to) renovating the Network Operating Center (NOC) which HOUSES IT EQUIPTMENT (across from the TE middle school on Conestoga road around the same time we purchased and renovated the District offices for $7M. More than one person has told me there was a maintenance building on the NOC property that was demolished. We also demolished the ESC building next to the Easttown Library. Why wasn’t that used for maintenance?

    It seems that you are more knowledgeable about the maintenance department than me.

    I will share what I know. The maintenance staff, along with the secretaries and other TENIG members, (who run the school)have one on one contact with our kids and keep things running smoothly for the Administration, have suffered severe pay cuts, and are under constant threat of being outsourced.

    I value our maintenance department. They do much more than shovel snow and clean floors. They chase down run away kids, they make sure sidewalks are clear, they maintain playing fields, etc. They do so much more than their job description requires. Our kids know them, I know them and I know they are excited about the maintenance building, but at what cost? There’s? I’d rather have a $2M maintenance building (which I think is alot) and see the maintenance staff paid a decent wage. I’d rather see the maintenance staff keep their jobs.

    We already have outsourced staff traipsing through the halls of our schools. Thank God some who worked for the District signed on with the outsourcing company. We have highly visible outsourced employees with huge job responsibilities on the front lines in our schools.

    These positions are treated like Commodities Doug. The Board doesn’t work with them so they don’t care about outsourcing them.

    I’m in the school AT LEAST once a week. I go to parent meetings, I talk to TENIG employees, I know what is going on. I’ve been in the District at least 14 years. I saw an ex Board Member drop off a book bag in the lobby at the TEMS about 5 years ago. I saw an ex Board member attend musicals her child was in. I saw another Board member at ball games to watch his super star athlete child perform. I see one one Board member at soccer and basketball games. That’s really about it. I have never seen board members attend parent meetings in the schools. Ever. (Maybe some of the new ones do)

    They get all their information from one source.

    The only personal connections Board members have are with and through the Administration. The segment that enjoys lavish pay and continues to grow in numbers and influence.

    You say:
    “I guess I am justifying the cost of the maintenance building with all the money that can be saved by in the long run by having our own staff and proper space.”

    The Board doesn’t think the way you do Doug. If maintenance is part of TENIG, and they want to outsource TENIG as a sweeping way to “save money”, they will do it without a second thought. Just like they did to the Aides and paras.

    I agree with your points about lap tops.

    [Reply]

  11. http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/solid-support-apple-iphone-encryption-fight-poll-n524816

    Nearly half of Americans support Apple ‘s decision to oppose a federal court order demanding that it unlock a smartphone used by San Bernardino shooter Rizwan Farook, according to a national online Reuters/Ipsos poll.

    Forty-six percent of respondents said they agreed with Apple’s position, 35 percent said they disagreed and 20 percent said they did not know, according to poll results released on Wednesday.

    [Reply]

  12. Very revealing poll. It goes on to state that:

    Other questions in the poll showed that a majority of Americans do not want the government to have access to their phone and Internet communications, even if it is done in the name of stopping terror attacks.

    The responses to the privacy questions in the poll are similar to results from a 2013 Reuters/Ipsos poll, showing a consistent desire on the part of Americans to keep their phone, Internet communications and other data private.

    If you have kids in the District, especially if you are an elected School Board Official, ask them,

    “Knowing that your data can be viewed at any time without your knowledge by any school official, will you log on to the wi fi system at your school?”

    As a 14 to 18 year old young adult, would you log on?

    [Reply]

  13. I attended a Parent Meeting at CHS this morning. Mike S. Director of technology gave a talk about the 1 to 1 computer initiative.

    He was having a back and forth with a parent about software the District will use to block social websites and other inappropriate sites students may try to access. He said the district will install software to block inappropriate sites. I raised my hand to be called on to speak about what I know on this topic. Please read:

    http://www.wnyc.org/story/why-hoboken-throwing-away-all-its-student-laptops/

    Hoboken school officials were also worried they couldn’t control which websites students would visit. Crocamo installed software to block pornography, gaming sites and Facebook. He disabled the built-in web cameras. He even installed software to block students from undoing these controls. But Crocamo says students found forums on the Internet that showed them how to access everything.

    Mike said that when the laptops are handed out, parents should not let their kids “take the laptops to their bedrooms and shut the door.” He said that there are no 100% safeguards and parents have to monitor their kids when their kids use these laptops.

    Parents of 14 to 18 year old students, Do you monitor your child’s laptop use? Everyday? From the time they come home until they go to bed?

    I sat in the front row. My raised hand was ignored and the conversation was shut down and the discussion went on to another topic.

    It’s March. This was introduced in Sept. It is all but a done deal. UCF has been considering it for almost 3 years. It’s still not a done deal in UCF. What is the rush in TE?

    This is a huge initiative with known and unknown potential unintended consequences. Parents should be able to speak about it in meetings without being ignored and marginalized and then mocked and ridiculed on the way out (just mean) because solid information is brought forth that goes against the sales job presented by the Administration.

    [Reply]

  14. I attended the first 20 minutes of the School Board Education Committee meeting yesterday. Scott Dorsey Chair, to his right Kevin Buraks represented by a phone (Bizarre) taking the place where Kevin would have sat had he been there, turning the corner in the direction of the audience sat Kate Murphy followed by Roberta H. and Virginia Lastner bringing up the rear.

    On the other side were Wendy Towle,–

    Pat Gately——Curriculum Supervisor, Language Arts,staff development, kindergarten, media centers, summer reading camps)

    Oscar Torres, Curriculum Supervisor, World languages, English as a second language, health/physical education, teacher induction program —-not sure why Oscar was there.

    Supt. Gusick

    A citizen opened the meeting in the public comment section and talked about the need for computer science instruction in the curriculum especially the middle school level. He commented resources would be better spent on this than the 1 to 1 computer initiative approved at the March 28th meeting.

    I then spoke about the need for more tutors in the achievement center at the High School. The A.C.is a room students go to for extra help. There are two tutors who staff the small room. The room is packed with students eager to get extra help throughout the day. Most Board Members did not know about the A.C., and when I asked Supt. Gusick about hours of operation, he said he didn’t know.

    After I spoke, Board Member Roberta H. commented on the first report about needing computer science instruction in the curriculum. She agreed with the citizen and stated that there were more women in C.S. in the 70’s than men and that the number of students entering the field has been declining over the years not increasing like many would assume. She noted to Supt. Gusick that she had e-mailed him information about getting government grants to cover the cost of computer science instruction. Supt. Gusick had no reply. He just looked at her and said nothing.

    Doesn’t the Supt. work for the Board? I got the sense that Roberta H. (who I don’t know, but have been very impressed with so far)was asking the Supt. for permission to consider adding computer science to our curriculum and that she was even shy about it. Why should we have to ask the government and scrounge for funds to pay for something like this? Why shouldn’t computer science instruction come straight out of our budget no questions asked, especially since we just constructed a $6M Maintenance Building and we’re erecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in fencing no one wants and we pay Administrators more than the highest paid governors in the country and we’re paying for laptops for thousands of kids in the District?

    Maybe we should have petitioned the government for money for the maintenance building and the fences and the raises and bonuses, and saved tax money for the students for things like computer science instruction in the curriculum.

    Any thoughts?

    I would have loved to have stayed but a 1:00 P.M. start time is impossible for me. Some citizens were there with hand outs about PSSA testing and I was very interested in hearing what they had to say. I would appreciate a report from someone who was there. Thanks.

    [Reply]

  15. I don’t think that administrator has teens. Ask him.
    No one should be shut down or mistreated like you have written in your note. Poor modeling. Poor communication skills which should be reflected in a performance evaluation followed by remediation.
    nonetheless, parents and children will be to blame or charged with any unauthorized use of the District computer. Parents will pay a fee for use. Students will sign a permission form . Then…
    The parents will have to hire highly paid defense lawyers if their is a misuse.
    The District believes you should monitor students but knows that is impossible and kids can use poor judgment and ruin their lives with one mistake. All educators who have studied child development and adolescent behavior understand this and work with students to improve their choices.
    Many students and adults have emotional, educational, mental health and other situational circumstances that lead to accidents and poor choices.
    I applaud you for asking the hard questions and standing your ground. I respect you for withstanding ridicule. You rose to the top and stood up for your kid.
    My humble opinion with all due respect:
    A school district that provides lap tops should be held equally responsible for their choices and their use of security software and the knowledge that students are light years ahead of any teacher, administrator or parent. Districts know: Students find it a challenge to bypass the system. Students can make poor choices.

    So,a district setting kids up to be charged with potential crimes or failure is not the well thought out plan. The recommendation for 1 to 1 lap top are mainly based on teacher findings. I don’t see literature reviews from security technology experts or criminal scientists.
    Set kids up to succeed. Trparents and others with respect.

    [Reply]

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