Bartlesville school officials will ask voters to approve a bond issue package next month focused on keeping the district up-to-date in teaching technologies and curriculum needs.
Voters will head to the polls Aug. 13 to decide the fate of bond issues totaling $17.9 million, of which $4.2 million (23.4%) will be used to maintain and expand modernized technology across the school district. Passage of the proposals will not increase property taxes.
The primary focus of the bond package is to advance the excellence already established through support from previous bond issues, Granger Meador, Bartlesville Public Schools’ executive director of technology and communications, said.
“We’re not resting on our laurels of all that we accomplished,” Meador said. “We’re modernizing how we teach, and also trying to push ahead and keep going into the future.”
One way to do this, he said, is by extending the successful district-wide Chromebooks initiative through the 2022-23 school year while replacing decade-old electronic whiteboards in all elementary school classrooms with interactive touchscreen panels.
Back in August 2016 district voters approved a bond issue to fund a multi-year plan to implement a student computing initiative, including a one-to-one ratio computing rollout for secondary school students. In 2019-20, it provides a Chromebook to each middle school and high school student for use both at school and at home and provides six or more carts of Chromebooks at each elementary school.
“A big chunk of the latest bond issue is to support the Chromebook initiative and keep it going. It will help us maintain what we’ve got. So as Chromebooks get older, we’ll retire them and put fresh ones in,” Meador said.
Along with extending the district-wide Chromebooks initiative for two more years, the bond issue funds will supply additional Chromebook carts for elementary schools and refresh elementary and middle school staff devices.
Using Chromebooks is a powerful tool for kids to learn, Meador said.
“The older kids who’ve experienced it most have really said it pays off because they can instantly get help. They can review lessons that some of the teachers record on video, if they’re absent they can easily see what they missed and catch up on stuff, so much more easily than before,” he said. “One thing that we’re very cognizant of is that you don’t want to buy tech for the sake of tech. That’s a trap. You only want to buy technology as a tool that helps kids learn or helps us manage the distinct.”
The bond package would also replace decade old-electronic whiteboards in all elementary classrooms with bright touchscreen panels over the summers of 2020 and 2021.
Around 190 touchscreens would be installed to replace outdated Promethean Activboards, Meador said.
“Basically, we’re going to all the elementary schools and take all the boards down and the projectors out of them that are about 10 years old and replace them all with 70-inch touchscreen panels,” he said. “The big advantages are that they’ll be no shadow, it’s bright just like a TV, so it will be easier for the kids and teachers to see and be interactive than ever.”
The new boards will be a great way to highlight how the district is continuing to invest in making the most of technology.
“I’m excited about that because that will modernize all those heavily used instructional tools in the classrooms,” he said. “The workplace is transforming too, so I think it’s really great that we’re helping kids be ready for that modern work environment, whether if they go straight into the work or go on to get more education.”
Other technology in the bond package include updating software services for curricular programs like STAR, Canvas, Study Island, Edgenuity virtual school and so on, Meador said. Administrative software such as PowerSchool, LobbyGuard, and library checkout.
The bond would also support the district’s infrastructure, including maintaining, replacing, and operating the district network switches and servers, desktops and telephones.
The curriculum package ($3.1 million or 17%) would include funding physical textbooks with online resources for elementary students and electronic textbooks for most secondary students for use with their Chromebooks.
It would also include refreshing the secondary STEM computer labs and the elementary modules and provide research-based interventions tailored to students who are struggling to attain mastery of state-mandated learning standards.
The bond package wouldn’t increase the millage rate — meaning no property tax rate increase for those living in the school district – because previous bond payment obligations are being paid down as the new ones are taken on. For passage, the bonds must be approved by at least 60% of voters.
The ballot will contain two bond proposals: one for $1,850,000 to cover transportation needs and one for $16,065,000 to cover all other needs, for a total of $17,915,000.
The 2019 bond issue would be funded through the sale of general obligation bonds beginning in 2021-22. By funding some school needs through bonds rather than through the district’s general fund, the district would be able to free up about $10 million that can be used to preserve teaching positions, Meador said.
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