The Turlock Unified School District (TUSD) Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Tuesday evening, November 20, to approve the 21st Century Classroom Technology Plan that will see a district-wide technology upgrade within classrooms. The 21st Century Classroom Technology Plan, which was first introduced to the TUSD Board of Trustees at the October 16th meeting, would move the district forward to a more well-equipped classroom setting for students within the District.
The 21st Century Classroom Technology Plan was created by the District Technology Committee as a recommendation to upgrade the current infrastructure of the computer network District-wide, to create a classroom standard for technology that includes a blueprint for technology tools of the 21st Century classroom, and includes a phased-in approach that will begin January 2013 until June 2015.
The District Technology Committee’s 21st Century Classroom Technology Plan included recommendations to upgrade network infrastructure to support 10GB to the desktop and to provide a district-wide wireless network, install Interactive Whiteboards in each core classroom, install Document Cameras in each classroom, make staggered purchases of desktops or laptops for teachers and upgrade computers in all computer labs to meet the requirements of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
The plan also included setting aside $500,000 for future use to purchase student devices, such as the Apple iPad, Amazon’s Kindle, or similar products, for use during school hours. In the mean time, the District Technology Committee will monitor trends for such student devices.
Funding for the 21st Century Classroom Technology Plan will come from one-time General Fund Reserves and is expected to reach a grand total of $4,986,250. Phase One of the plan, which includes upgrading infrastructure to a 10GB network, purchasing document cameras, computer lab upgrades, LCD Projectors and Interactive Whiteboards, District-wide software, Professional Development and Staffing Reorganization of Technology Department, will cost the District $1,885,000.
Diane Springer, an Administrative Secretary at Osborn School, asked the TUSD Board of Trustees who would be responsible for ongoing costs and staff support after all three phases have been finished in 2015.
“That’s part of the plan,” stated Dr. Sonny Da Marto, TUSD Superintendent. “We would put aside money every year in the General Fund to replace equipment once they’ve reached their life cycle.” Da Marto compared the costs to that of Joe Debely Field at Turlock High School, stating that once it was built, the General Fund was amended to reflect maintenance/replacement costs each year.
Linda Murphy Lopes, Principal at Julien Elementary School, shared with the Board that the elementary school had used some of their own money previously to make similar purchases.
“Yes, it is expensive, and yes that can be scary, but the kids at Julien can and do benefit from this, and it’s worth it,” she stated. “We looked at how much the teachers use the equipment, how it helps the lessons that have been taught. The application is there, and it’s phenomenal what the kids are doing.”
The District had also set aside $5.9 million of the General Fund in case Proposition 30 had not passed on November 6th. Since Prop 30 passed, however, the set aside money can be used for other uses, such as the 21st Century Classroom Technology Plan.
“I feel that we’ve been behind on technology since I’ve been on the board,” stated TUSD Board Trustee Tami Muniz. “We need to be getting the students engaged and ready for the work field. We’d be doing them a disservice if we didn’t accept the 21st Century Classroom. I do feel a lot better since Prop 30 passed about spending this money, and I know that not only our kids, but also our staff will appreciate and benefit from it.”
Turlock Teachers Association President Julie Shipman, who also teaches at Turlock High School, stressed the importance of having such equipment in the classrooms.
“I think it’s an excellent use of those reserves,” stated Shipman. “You can’t put it off. This is the time, this is the place, and we need to do it.”
The motion approving the plan passed unanimously, and Phase One of the project will commence in January 2013.