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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  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:

  1. 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.
  2. MacBook carts at , and and infrastructure upgrades in addition to technology and infrastructure upgrades in scenario 1, at a total cost of $750,000.
  3. 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 , Fessler said. The cuts are chipping away at a d.

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.

Mary Drechsler April 03, 2011 at 12:57 AM
1. I am a retired Dist 123 teacher who efficiently used technology as a regular part of instruction from 1990-2007. I used Apple IIE floppy disk models on up to my personal (my money) MacBook. I found that teachers were very willing to use technology if the support staff was available to encourage individual students with learning, listening, behavior, etc. issues. More meetings resulted in plans to improve test scores. As a result many special needs teachers were not available during "computer class" and classroom teachers were short handed. Does this technology plan include money for the in-the-classroom support needed to best use new (expensive) equipment? 2. I also wonder if it is legal to move building improvement funds raised by a taxpayer referendum to a technology agenda? Isn't the middle school currently overcrowded? The OLHMS building plan had a computer lab on each floor for whole class use. With the portable labs available, these rooms have been converted into special reading classrooms. Is there enough "space" to serve the growing Dist 123 population? Will the teachers once again be asked to join the community to fund additional classrooms or will the excess "already available money" be used? There are no "surplus" funds when it comes to education. Mary Drechsler
Don't be a cynic April 12, 2013 at 09:48 PM
Mary, Interesting comment from someone who's a former educator. The children are the future and thus we must prepare them for the future. There is no scenario in which the use of some new technology will not be a requirement of an occupation. That said, lets focus on whats best for our kids versus distracting from that outcome.

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