More technology in the classroom is the most common request Grants Management and Professional Development Director Joseph Reyda receives from teachers, and new state teaching standards make accessible technology more important than ever.
Reyda gave a technology update to the Fredonia Central School District Board of Education at the regular school board meeting. The report was a follow-up to the report he gave the board in July, and included news on upcoming state core curriculum standards and how technology in classrooms may help or hinder implementation of some aspects of the standards.
Reyda said changing the operating system on an inventory of computers running Windows XP over to Windows 7 "took the entire summer, September, and part of October to complete." Windows XP will no longer be supported by Microsoft next year, so the upgrade was necessary. He said over the summer, older computers were upgraded or removed and the entire technology department inventoried.
OBSERVER Photo by Shirley Pulawski
Superintendent Paul DiFonzo listens to a presentation on computer technology needs at a Fredonia Board of Education meeting.
BOCES, he explained, was given the list of equipment which it is now reviewing.
Two large network upgrades Reyda discussed in July are still high priorities, but not without a high cost. In July, he described wiring closets, installed in 1999-2000, were slow and failing and need replacement. At that time, he also created two scenarios with which to pay for the anticipated $450,000 cost to upgrade the system, neither of which was feasible. At the meeting, he suggested state EXCEL funds can be used to pay for the upgrade.
Another high-priced upgrade Reyda suggested could be purchased and installed using EXCEL funds is a districtwide wireless network. The system would allow for both home and guest log-in access, so students could use their own laptops if they choose. He said it would also be designed so there would be no "dead spots" on any part of the district campus. The project is estimated to cost about $80,000.
Superintendent Paul DiFonzo said EXCEL funds total about $3.35 million, but "while that sounds like a lot of money," he explained with the large number of projects the school would like to complete, the money may not go very far. "Once that's gone, there isn't much else to draw from," he explained. DiFonzo said the board will need to prioritize projects, such as the technology upgrades, in balance with other projects such as repairing or replacing the track or other projects.
EXCEL funds can be used to pay for educational technology, health and safety upgrades, accessibility improvements, expansion of capacity or energy savings projects.
DiFonzo said he'd like the board to appoint a subcommittee at the December meeting to begin working on obtaining the funds as early as January.
Reyda said the board must also consider technology improvements at the school to address ways to implement new core curriculum standards. He told the board a new digital curriculum set of modules has been developed which follows core curriculum standards. He explained the modules can be viewed on individual computers, on a screen by a digital projector, on a smartboard or possibly other formats, but some aspects of the modules, such as drag and drop functions required for some tests in the modules, would require the student to sit at an individual computer.
Currently, there are enough computers in labs to accommodate such testing, but not within classrooms, where six teachers share one computer per grade. He explained the modules are too large to print and do not have to be utilized by teachers, or can be adapted. however, he said the information contained in the modules is the information all students must learn and will be the basis for testing student progress. If the modules are used, and in a paperless format, Reyda explained more computers or other kinds of technology in classrooms may be required to accommodate the modules.
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