NB School Committee Emphasizes Technology In FY17 School Budget
Technology took the forefront of Monday night's New Bedford school budget discussion.
Out of the $7.7 million expected to be added to the district's budget for 2017, $300,000 will be included for technology replacement.
New Bedford schools' Information Technology Director Rob Tetreault says the additional funds could go toward a number of needs, such as laptops for middle school faculty, or partially expanding the high school's tablet program.
With the high school's pilot one-to-one tablet math program costing about $500,000 to increase to every freshman from the initial 170 students, any expansion next year would likely be limited.
While the funding for a full-scale tablet program isn't in the budget right now, Tetreault says anything is possible.
"I think we need further discussion between the city and the school committee and the administration to figure out exactly what direction do we want to take, and then what avenues do we have available for funding," Tetreault tells WBSM News.
Providing every student at New Bedford High would cost $1.6 million.
These figures, however, would not include professional development. In other words, the district would need to hire one more technical assistant in order to properly help teachers and students learn the technology, and fix any problems.
The district currently has six technicians for all New Bedford schools.
During the meeting, Superintendent Pia Durkin stressed the importance of these technicians helping teachers get on the same page with technology in the classroom.
Officials also discussed updating computer labs, classroom projectors, and other learning tools as a part of the replacement program.
While other districts, like Brockton, have used leasing programs to pay for new computers and other devices, these payment systems often turn out to be twice as expensive in the long run.
Also, by the time the district owns the computers at the end of a 5-year payment program, the technology has already become obsolete.
Durkin said the pilot tablet program has proven the importance of technology going forward, with students scoring higher in math, and even showing a love for the historically hated subject.
The final FY17 New Bedford school budget will be voted on at the next School Committee meeting on Monday, May 9.