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Technology and space availability for school board meetings

By Mia Munn
Posted Friday, July 17, 2009

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Pittsboro, NC - I'm pretty sure that the level of technology at a K-4 or K-8 school is different than at a high school, and I think that is appropriate. I don't know if all of the elementary or K-8 schools have wireless (like the central office and I believe the high schools do) because those students usually don't have laptops like high school students do (or will next year with the 1 to 1 laptop initiate at the high schools.)

That is a little problematic if several board members, the superintendent, the secretary, and the board attorney all want to have their laptops usable while at the same time another laptop is hooked to the projector, because you end up having to run a lot of wires, for power cords as well as network connections, and this often means climbing under tables to disconnect network connections usually used for desktop computers. At many of the schools, the board meets in the library, but at some schools the library is not big enough for a U shaped table for at least 9 people while still having room for chairs for an audience (a minimum of 10 people including senior staff and presenters) where everyone can see a projector, because most K-8 schools don't use the library that way. (There is plenty of room for a class to hear a story, plus a bank of desktop computers and printers, and scattered tables and chairs, but not the open space needed for a board meeting)

Sometimes the meetings are held in the multi-purpose room, which probably doesn't have multiple network connections and requires running lots of power cords. In the multi-purpose rooms the problem is sometimes too much space, making it difficult to arrange the room so everyone can see a screen (and the audience can see the board, and the board can see each other).

The other, non-trivial, problem is that someone (principal or custodians) have to move a lot of furniture and hook up all the cables/wires, and then put it back to be usable the next morning. At SAGE, the library is huge, so little rearranging will need to be done, they can figure out the wiring once, and if need be, the students are old enough to help move furniture.

The board decided to have this schedule for one year to see how it worked. I would suggest if you don't like it, you not only tell the board, but you show up at board meetings during the year, and you make sure that your school (PTA/parents) have a presentation for the board when meetings are returned to the schools. This year, there was no benefit in meeting in the schools because almost no one from the school attended the board meeting, and almost no one spoke even during public comments. (The exception was at North Chatham a year ago February, when there was discussion about how to deal with overcrowding - I think those parents would have attended the meeting to speak even if it had not, coincidentally, been held at North Chatham.)

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