GENEVA – The Geneva School District 304 school board voted Monday to approve a technology capital plan that would cost more than $1 million.
Technology Director Mike Wilkes presented a plan for the 2020-21 budget year that would cost nearly $813,000 in the district education fund and an additional $210,000 from the operations and maintenance fund.
The total request of nearly $1.023 million would be offset by $208,200 of students' technology service fees and $97,450 from a possible grant, Wilkes said, for a likely final cost of $809,330.
The plan would increase kindergarten and first grade technology access to one iPad per two students, instead of the plan that was set up four years ago of one iPad for three students, Wilkes said.
“But after hearing in the last year, year and a half from our teachers at the k-1 grade levels, we’ve learned that one to three is no longer providing as many opportunities as they would like to see, for using technology technology in the classroom,” Wilkes said.
“In fact, we’re hearing it’s a common goal and desire to have that increased to one to two. And we’ve heard that from every k-1 teacher across all the schools in the district,” Wilkes said. “That feedback is important to us. Because they are telling us what they need to be successful in the classroom using technology.”
Wilkes said increased opportunities to use technology will allow the teachers to implement new strategies in the classroom.
The gap between one iPad for two students versus one iPad for three students is about $70,000, Wilkes said.
The cost would be $667,000 up to $735,000 to purchase all new iPads and charging stations, as it is time to replace the current iPads.
Another capital cost would be up to $78,000 to upgrade projectors in the high school classrooms, Wilkes said.
The ones up for replacement were installed in 2011 and 2012, he said.
“We are looking to replace all of the projectors at the high school, which is approximately 95,” Wilkes said. “In addition to that, we look to include a third party mobile projection that supports mobile projection in a nicer way than what we currently have.”
For second grade, Wilkes said the discussion was the same as the issues for kindergarten and first grade – that teachers recommended one laptop for every student instead of one laptop shared by two students.
Allowing each student to have a laptop will allow them increased opportunity for research, independent work and reduce the idle time as students log on.
Wilkes recommended that the technology fee for kindergarten and first grade be increased to $30 from $20 and the second grade technology fee be increased to $40 from $30.
The fees offset annual capital technology costs by 20%.
The increases would be consistent with the other grades’ fees and technology access.
Wilkes said the district also needs to upgrade its security infrastructure with new firewalls to replace the now four-year-old firewalls at a cost of $210,000.
“Four to five years is the expected life of a firewall,” Wilkes said.