|Steve Thornton presents technology guidelines and funding options to school board members.|
Faced with similar challenges, Menifee Union School District officials are discussing plans for improved technology that would bring the district in line with President Obama's ConnectEd Initiative as well as state curriculum requirements.
Steve Thornton, director of technology for the district, delivered a presentation at today's school board meeting regarding the state and federal guidelines and possible sources of funding. The goal is to have all classrooms equipped with sufficient equipment and Internet connectivity to best prepare students for the modern advances that await them in the workplace.
In introducing his initiative in June, Obama stated a goal of connecting 99 percent of U.S. students to the Internet through high-speed and wireless connections within five years. Part of the initiative states that school districts should prepare to have 1 gigabyte of Internet connectivity for use by students.
That would require additional funding and reconfiguration of current systems for MUSD, which has only a fraction of that Internet capability now.
Funding would come from federal and state sources. Obama's plan calls upon the FCC to make changes in its E-rate program to free up funds, and the state of California could make available to districts such as MUSD one-time funds that would provide up to $200 per student for improved technology.
The district is just in the preliminary stages of its plan to comply with the initiative and with the Common Core standards -- a concept promoting increased critical thinking on the part of students and preparation for a new academic testing program set to begin in the spring of 2014.
"The first thing we have to do is build an infrastructure that can support that many students on the Internet at once," Thornton told board members. "Receiving the funding doesn't mean we go out and spend $200 on each student for iPads or laptops. We have to come up with the plan first. It's not about the devices right now. It's about the outcome for students."
According to Thornton, necessary improvements include:
-- Upgrades in computer switch systems.
-- New wiring to access points at local schools.
-- Increasing the Internet capacity between the district office and access points to 20 GB.
-- Providing adequate audio-visual equipment such as ceiling-mounted projectors and sound systems in all classrooms.
-- Providing students with devices that are compatible with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium testing program, which will be administered at the end of next school year.
MUSD Superintendent Dr. Steve Kennedy emphasized the need for proper planning and execution in order to provide students with the technological tools they will need.
"Once this is in place, we want it to be the information super highway it is intended to be," he said.
Thornton said he hopes those involved in the process will have a plan ready to present to the school board soon.
Also in today's school board meeting, current Rotary Club of Menifee President Linda Denver and last year's president, Carol Sullivan, presented district officials with a check for $300 to go toward library books. This was in addition to the club's commitment to once again provide every third grader in the district with a new dictionary this school year.
|From left: Superintendent Steve Kennedy, Carol Sullivan, Board President Randall Freeman and Linda Denver during the Rotary Club's check presentation to the district.|