D-26 to add position, technology

CARY – In a 4-3 vote, the District 26 school board approved a plan Monday to add an instructional technology coordinator for next school year and make more than $400,000 in technology purchases.

The district estimates the new employee would be paid $60,000 to $69,000 a year.

The Cary-based district would save at least $20,000 to $25,000 a year on technology training for staff, as that role would be done in-house. The person would provide support during the school day and show effective use of technology in the classroom, among other things.

Administrators had pitched the idea for the position a year ago, but school board members did not believe the position was necessary at the time.

District officials do not want to outsource the work because the person may not be close enough to immediately help teachers when needed.

Board members Scott Coffey, Chris Spoerl, Jason Larry and Kevin Carrick voted to approve the plan. Board members Floyd Myers, Julie Jette and Chris Jenner voted against the plan.

As part of the plan, District 26 expects to spend about $318,000 on equipment purchases, including new computer lab equipment at Briargate School and Cary Junior High and SMART Boards for Briargate, Deerpath and Cary Junior High.

Three Oaks would get four new media carts, three new SMART bundles and new mobile computer labs, through $114,000 of Title I funding.

Teachers will have to apply to have the SMART Boards in their classrooms by saying how they will use them in lesson plans.

Myers said in a memo to school board members that the district should “debundle” the technology purchases so equipment can be purchased individually. He said there should be more priority given to upgrading computers and there needs to be a narrative that supports why certain technology purchases are of the highest priority.

Some board members said they felt rushed into making this decision.

“A much more objective and rigorous analysis must be offered confirming the educational and financial worth of expanding the SMART board population,” Myers wrote.

Board member Kevin Carrick said he disagreed with Myers’ assessment.

“I’m leaning toward the teachers on this one,” Carrick said. “They’re the educators ... and technology enhances the learning environment, engages the students and enhances their learning.”

Carrick said the instructional technology coordinator is needed. As the district brings in more technology, it needs someone who will make sure the best practices are used, he said.

“We can’t rely on students getting all of their technology education at home from their parents,” Carrick said. “We have to expose them to these technologies. This is what they’ll be using in the workplace.”

Jette said she voted against the plan because the goals and expectations of the instructional technology coordinator have not yet been fully set and she would like the job better defined.

In other action, the school board also approved having Aurora-based Anthony Roofing perform the roof replacement project at Three Oaks School, for $938,350.

The eight bids on the project ranged from $938,350 to $1.29 million. The project is scheduled to begin June 12 and be substantially completed by Aug. 9. Final completion is expected by Aug. 30.

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