School Board to send tech plan to City Council

WESTFIELD – At Monday’s School Committee meeting, Kevin Sullivan made a motion to support the 2015-2018 Strategic Technology Plan that has been prepared by Ron Rix, Westfield Public Schools Director of Technology and Business Services, and to move it to the next stop at the City Council. The motion passed.
Rix has been working on the Strategic Technology Plan since last spring. Last week, the Technology and Finance sub-committees chaired by Cynthia Sullivan and Kevin Sullivan held a joint meeting to go over the plan in detail, according to Rix.
The plan, which was posted Tuesday on the website at www.schoolsofwestield.org under the Technology Department link, contains a line item budget with a bottom line of $3.6 million.
“We haven’t invested in technology in the last six or seven years,” Rix said.
He said that one of the things they’re asking for the City Council to consider is bonding for it, and bringing in a major infusion of cash to get the plan off the ground.
After that, Rix said the plan includes a continual rollover and upgrading of equipment built into the school budget, to make it self-sustaining. He said the district has a similar plan with vehicles, which they lease for four years, then when that’s up, replace vehicles that are aging out.
Another part of the plan is to have upper secondary level students bring their own devices to school, and purchase ones for those who can’t afford them.
“This allows us to realign our budget,” Rix said. “Instead of buying textbooks and paper items, transferring the funds to digital.”
He said there are also free apps that are continuously updated, and don’t go out of date.
“We can significantly save paper by students submitting work electronically rather than printing it out and turning it in,” he said.
At the meeting, School Committee Vice Chair Ramon Diaz, Jr. said that during the forums that have been held for the superintendent search, the need for a technology upgrade in the schools kept coming up.
“The number one thing we’ve heard from all the forums and surveys is technology,” Diaz said. “Everyone understands the needs.”
“Timing is essential,” said Superintendent Suzanne Scallion. “We need to put in the school budget untouchable money every year for technology. But right now, we have to get started.”
“It’s an infusion of money to help us get started,” said Cynthia Sullivan.
“Before I was seated on the School Committee,” said Jeffrey Gosselin, “a lot of work went in on this technology bond. We need it. We’ve been working on it for a long time. Please call your city councilor and ask them to pass this technology bond.”
Rix said the chain of command is to now send the appropriation request through the Mayor to the City Council.

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