In November 2008, the Acalanes Union High School District passed Measure E, a 10-year technology fund intended to upgrade, replace, and enhance classroom technology and infrastructure. The Measure issued $93 million in bonds, which has been used to install new or improved wireless servers and networks, computer replacements, and come this spring, mounted projectors and speakers.
Miramonte librarian Marian Shostrom said, “Schools can budget for $200,000 in capital outlay per school site.” Shostrom, who is also on the District Technology Committee and Instructional Council, said that there is no deadline or strict timeframe for the money to be spent, but up to $150,000 can be allocated for the initial capital outlay, or this year’s first expenditure.
In response to Miramonte’s purchase of a class set of iPod Touches about two years ago, some students have been questioning the district’s fiscal priorities. Miramonte teacher and Technology Mentor Nick Carpenter, who is also the co-leader in determining how to allocate Measure E money at Miramonte, said, “the criticism was mostly ‘Why are we buying technology when we are laying off teachers?’”
Because Measure E money can only be spent on tech and infrastructure upgrades, students have complained that too much money is spent on technology when we should be rethinking and redoubling our efforts to compensate, let alone keep our teachers.
“This is not a fair criticism because the [iPod Touches] were paid for by parent groups, and the cost of the [new technologies] is a small one-time expense compared to the larger ongoing expense of retaining a teacher,” said Carpenter.
Because Measure E is a bond, the money can only be spent on capital outlay, or revamping physical objects like classrooms and computers; it can’t be spent on personnel.
“Measure E has specific language and restrictions on how the money is spent that was approved by the voters,” said Carpenter. And after all, in the information age, investments in technology will provide our students with the prerequisite that wealth and influence depend on more and more.
While the iPod Touches were not received with too much tolerance, last April the district purchased 10 iPads for experimental purposes. Because teachers and students prefer creation-based technology like computers and iPads rather than content-based technology like the iPod Touches, the iPads have successfully eclipsed the purchase of the iPod Touches. As of this year, Miramonte has a full class set of iPads.
On Monday, Feb. 14, a Measure E workgroup headed by Carpenter and Shostrom held their first meeting to begin determining how the money will be allocated. Ideas being discussed for what the funding can purchase include upgrades in computers, LCD projectors, servers, routers, sound projection systems, laser printers, digital white boards, and other miscellaneous equipment and software.
“Principals will approve and submit proposals after the proposals receive consensus endorsement by the school Instructional Council, which includes Department Heads, the administration, technology mentors, and librarians,” said Shostrom.
Carpenter and Shostrom launched a survey for members from various departments this week.