Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) 2013 provides $26.5 million for instructional technology and $38.4 million for technology infrastructure.
Improvements to infrastructure will include a reworking of wireless and network capacities that will make possible 1:1 (one to one) connection density on campuses. Currently, all campuses have wireless access, but connections are not robust enough to support every student connecting on a device at once (hence, 1:1).
District staff members have defined a series of goals for classroom technology and a plan to reach them. These goals include: 1) setting a baseline of equity at all schools; 2) providing greater student access to online content, and; 3) establishing standards for devices and support.
The plan calls for every teacher to receive a new laptop device and access to a multi-purpose teaching cart. The cart is a teaching space as well as a place to store, charge, and secure student laptops.
Staff members have chosen a 3:1 baseline ratio of devices to students; for every three students in a classroom, there will be access to one device. Dr. Todd Wirt, Assistant Superintendent for Academics, believes this ratio creates a collaborative classroom environment. Rolesville Middle and Kingswood Elementary are already implementing a 3:1 instructional technology approach. (Principals at these schools may have reached this goal by dismantling computer labs or other collections of computers that sit and wait for students to arrive.) Ultimately, the goal is to increase regular access to devices. In this scenario, technology use becomes a constant in classrooms rather than a special lesson or activity.
This plan sets a baseline of equity at all schools – one device for every three students. It also sets a baseline expectation that technology use become embedded in every classroom. Such use will provide greater access for students to get online content. This is aligned with the NC General Assembly’s intent to move funding from textbooks (print and digital) to funding for digital materials by 2017. The plan also will set standards for devices and for digital instructional resources (textbooks, lessons, and software). That means that teachers and principals won’t choose from the wide universe of devices and resources out there. This allows the district to provide a higher standard of support.
The plan costs more than the $26.5 million allotted, and that means that recurring funding to support it must be incorporated in the annual operating budget. Any guesses about the amount of money currently in the operating budget for technology replacement? You guessed it. Zero. Funding was initially included but was pulled before the budget was finalized. Kudos to Dr. Wirt for creating a plan that prioritizes classroom instruction on a daily basis – and – requires a budget priority focusing on student learning as well. That’s a budget priority to get behind.