Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Norm Weaver doesn't have to look any further than one of his daughters to know the Steamboat Springs School District's technology plan is working.
His daughter, who attends the University of Colorado at Boulder, recently attended a meeting during which she and several other students used laptops with wireless Internet connections and a portable printer to prepare an on-the-spot presentation in connection with the school's annual Conference on World Affairs.
Weaver, a member of the Education Fund Board's Technology Commission, said his daughter and many other district graduates emerge from Steamboat's public school system well ahead of their peers in technological skills.
"Anecdotally, many Steamboat Springs kids think they're heads and shoulders above others," Weaver told the Fund Board on Wednesday night, when the Technology Commission presented its first readings of funding requests.
But the technology program comes with a price tag, and for the 2004-05 school year the commission is estimating that cost to be $650,000 for operational expenses and other technology programs and projects, according to its requests.
At the top of the prioritized list is the district's technology staff, which includes Technology Director Cathleen Nardi, two computer support specialists and four half-time teacher trainers and technology coordinators -- one at each district school. The cost to maintain that staff is $323,650.
Replacing 64 of the district's 900-plus computers will cost $96,350, training district teachers in technology will cost $27,500, and computer maintenance also will cost $27,500, according to the requests.
Completing phase II of the district's Network Upgrade plan will cost $25,000, and upgrading computer software throughout the school system will run $20,000. Continuing subscription with the Marmot community library consortium is $30,000 and is the last of the commission's priorities that keep it within the $550,000 it is guaranteed to receive in this year's Fund Board budgeting cycle.
The Fund Board, which allocates revenue from the city's half-cent sales tax for education, granted the Technology Commission and the Educational Excellence Commission $550,000 each, while providing the Capital Commission with $300,000. The commissions also will compete for at least $200,000 in thus unallocated revenue.
Beyond the $550,000 that it is allocated, the Technology Commission also requested funds for its successful small grants program, the summer Accelerated Reading Computer Program for elementary students, an evaluation of the district's technology program and the video production programs in district schools. Online database software, curriculum software, additional computer replacement and money to study a vocational certification program also are part of the commission's requests beyond the $550,000 threshold. Those additional requests totaled just less than $100,000.
The Fund Board plans to decide how much money to provide each commission based upon its first readings by the end of March. The Educational Excellence Commission will present its first readings next week.