Knapik requests school district capital plan

WESTFIELD – School officials are developing a capital plan for the up-coming budget at the Request of Mayor Daniel M. Knapik as he prepares to submit the 2014 budget to the City Council.
Knapik requested that the capital plan address two issues, physical plant maintenance and education needs, especially in the area of technology and curriculum.
The city has spent millions in recent years on major investments in the city school buildings, replacing roofs, boilers, and other infrastructure, with projects still under way and other slated to begin this summer.
School Committee Vice Chairman Kevin Sullivan said the department needs to address both needs and maintain that improvements already made to the school building physical plant.
“We need to make sure that buildings don’t fall back into disrepair,” Sullivan said. “And at the mayor’s request we’re addressing the structural needs of the district over the next couple of years, trying to identify priorities and plan out how to address those issues.”
Knapik said that he is also concerned that the district keep up, and employ, technology as it evolves.
“The world of education is changing rapidly,” Knapik said. “Mass production is reducing the cost of tablets, so there are durable technology at a cost effective price. My goal is to serve all of our student population at a more efficient level than ever before.”
Knapik said that his short-term goal is to identify at what grade to introduce technology across the entire district, then continue to expand the grade levels as that class matriculates each year and, eventually introduce new technology in every grade.
“We don’t have enough cash to take the big leap into the next phase of electronic-style educational format, but I want to keep the project going so we’ll make that investment, probably one grade at a time,” Knapik said.
“The idea is to put tablets into the hands of our kids, as opposed to the traditional text book approach, because kids learn more quickly and at their own pace,” Knapik said. “We need to develop specifications so that the tablets parents buy for their kids to use at home are compatible with school use.”
Knapik said the program would need to provide economically disadvantaged families with technology.

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