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Technology for Chatham County Schools

By Mia Munn
Posted Sunday, July 11, 2010

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Pittsboro, NC - I was not able to stay for the whole commissioner's meeting on June 21 (I went to the school board meeting a little after 7). Based on the discussion, and the very good questions asked by the commissioners, they were in favor of refreshing the high school laptops, but not, at this time, in favor of the iPads at the middle school. The proposal on the agenda, iPads for all 6-8 teachers and grade 8 students, was different than the oral presentation by Dr. McCoy, which was 660 iPads that might be given to 8th graders, or maybe 6th graders, or maybe kept as class sets on carts - we're not really sure how we're going to use them but we want flexibility.

The district had no alternatives in the cost estimate (only the whole package of high school laptops, 660 iPads, servers, training, support). So, later in the evening, the district Finance director worked with the Apple rep to get the commissioners a price for the laptops and associated stuff. The commissioners approved this, at a cost of $666K a year for 3 years. That was probably the right thing to do, but those costs should have been in the budget the school district presented to the commissioners in March, not rushed through this late in the year.

Later, at the school board meeting, the board voted on the wording of the resolution the commissioners had approved earlier (backwards from the way it's supposed to work) and voted to bring the middle school proposal back to the commissioners. Mr. Logan warned, "do they know it will cost more since it's not part of the whole package".

"I'd rather have a smart teacher than a smart board"

He explained that there was an existing funding stream to cover the cost - in 2008, the commissioners funded about $1.8M for the capital budget. Since then it's been cut in half, but in 2011 the commissioners will restore the funding, so there will plenty of money to pay for the laptops and iPads. (Big assumption - the commissioners will be able to increase capital funds by ~$1M at the same time they are trying to cover the $3.4M federal stimulus funding "cliff".)

The district will bring the proposal for iPads at the middle schools back to the commissioners later this summer.

Mia Munn is a former educator who ran for the Chatham County school board in 2008.

 
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