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October 23, 2013

District discusses timeline for technology bond proposal

By April Lehmbeck
C & G Staff Writer

GROSSE POINTES — The Grosse Pointe School Board is nearing the time to have to make a decision on putting a technology bond in front of the voters in February.

The board discussed the timeline during its Oct. 21 meeting and plans to bring the proposal back for approval of ballot language and other parameters Nov. 25.

There is work to be done in the meantime.

“Between now and a month from now, there’s going to be a lot of activity,” Superintendent Thomas Harwood said.

After struggling with the technology bond proposal that was presented to the school board earlier this year, the board decided to hold off for a third-party expert review of the district’s needs and its plan for technology.

The third-party review will bring in some information early next month that the district can consider, according to the discussion Oct. 21. The technology bond will be discussed during a few meetings in November before possible final approval to get the proposal in front of the voters.

The district had initially targeted this November’s ballot, but board members couldn’t quite get on the same page on the amount and scope of the proposal, despite everyone agreeing that some type of technology bond was needed.

A major component of the district’s technology needs is an infrastructure upgrade because many of the district’s buildings do not have what they need to utilize 21st century technology.

There are plans for one-to-one technology, which would get devices into the hands of all students and teachers.

While the district has had to hold off on the bond, they haven’t been waiting to make changes and use technology. They’ve been piloting programs with different technological devices, thanks to grant funding from the Grosse Pointe Foundation for Public Education.

“We continue to move forward, and I think we’re moving in a very systematic way to get us where we need to be,” Harwood said.

They’ve put Teacher of the Year Gary Abud into the trenches, working with teachers and technology.

Abud visited the school board meeting Oct. 21 to talk about what he’s been doing and what he’s seen in the schools he has visited.

He said he has had a chance to visit the classrooms in each school and is impressed by what he’s seen. He said he’s seeing technology used to augment what is already quality teaching in the classrooms.

“I’m seeing a lot of great instruction,” Abud said.

“We’re seeing project-based learning really capture the hearts of our students and create a more authentic learning (experience),” he said.

As for the timing of a technology bond, Abud said the district is taking the right steps. They’re getting the support and technology training in the schools before bringing in devices or other technology.

“We’ve begun with front-loading training of teachers and students,” he said. “Teachers are going to be much more prepared in our districts than perhaps in others.

“I think we’re ready for it,” he said of the bond proposal.

One issue he said needs to be addressed is communication about the bond proposal. He believes the district might need to inform people that the biggest component of the bond proposal is the need for infrastructure upgrades, not just the smaller portion of more technology in the schools. He believes some people may be confused on that issue.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer April Lehmbeck at alehmbeck@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1043.