District 123 Board to Consider Technology Plan
Oak Lawn-Hometown District 123 Board of Education mulls over three proposals for 5-year comprehensive plan presented at Monday's board meeting.
A world where every student in Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 learns through hands-on technology may not be far off.
But district officials will also have to consider things like cost, training for teachers and a host of other issues brought before the D123 Board of Education during a technology presentation at its regular meeting Monday, March 28.
Board President Joseph Sorrentino said the discussion is just beginning.
"We were presented with a technology plan and certain scenarios," Sorrentino said.
The presentation, which lasted about an hour, was headed by Ben Grey, the school district's director of technology and communications. Grey presented three scenarios designed to boost students' interaction with technology -- and bring learning into the 21st century, Grey told the board.
The scenarios included:
- A netbook project at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School, netbook carts for grades 1-5 at the district's four elementary schools, and infrastructure upgrades totaling $575,000.
- MacBook carts at Sward, Kolmar and Hannum and infrastructure upgrades in addition to technology and infrastructure upgrades in scenario 1, at a total cost of $750,000.
- All of the above, in addition to iPad carts for kindergarten (one per each district elementary school) and infrastructure upgrades totalling $936,000.
Grey said the figures are preliminary and he may be able to further save on products and infrastructure costs. He also encouraged the board to look at the technology upgrades "as an investment, not an expense," citing studies where increases in technology for students led to increases in grades and decreases in school dropouts and behavioral issues.
The one-time expenditure to fund the plan could come from the district's construction fund, which has a surplus, explained D123 Board President Sorrentino.
The board will further consider the scenarios and if the funds will in fact come from the construction fund at its April 4 committee of the whole meeting, he added.
"That will give us some direction to how much money we think we'll have comfortably in that construction fund and then the board will then vote on how much money they want to transfer to the technology," Sorrentino said.
Superintendent Art Fessler said the construction fund currently has about $3.4 million, after coming in under budget to renovate schools and build the Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School. About $2.4 million of those funds have already been earmarked for projects over the next five years, he said.
"So that will leave us with roughly a $1 million surplus in case something unexpected occurred," Fessler said.
He said the technology plan would make teaching and learning more effective for the students.
"Our strategic plan outlines a 21st century learning environment for kids," Fessler said. "...The dichotomy is that we want to have effective pedagogy and we want to have effective tools. So that the teaching and learning piece is the pedagogy and that tool, we believe, is technology. We want to make learning irresistible for kids."
In other business, the board approved the 2012 fiscal year budget, which cuts $850,000 without effectively reducing staff, Fessler said. The cuts are chipping away at a deficit that was just over $2 million.
Sorrentino also expressed the board's satisfaction with the budget: "That's $850,000 without cutting any programs, which is a pretty big feat," he said.