On March 31, school officials presented part two of the instructional portion of the School District's tentative 1998-99 budget. This section includes: computer assisted instruction, guidance, health services, psychological services, pupil personnel services, co-curricular activities and interscholastic athletics.
The details of the 1998 budget appropriation of $978,068 for the computer assisted instruction were presented by Mark Steinberger, director of technology. This part of the budget deals with the acquisition and maintenance of computer equipment as well as obtaining software to enhance educational programs districtwide. It also includes salaries for three districtwide technology specialists, a director of technology, a technology staff developer, five full time lab assistants and a clerical worker. (Note: the estimated costs to rewire Weber -$225,000 and Schreiber-$300,000 will be discussed at the capital improvements budget work session and also at the architect's long-range facility report meeting on April 9).
For his presentation, Mr. Steinberger discussed the technology improvements planned for 1998 at Schreiber, Weber and the elementary schools separately. He also noted some of the updates and upgrades made in '97.
Mr. Steinberger prefaced his report on the Schreiber portion of the technology budget by informing the audience that every year, "as part of every core technology course, every student will take a computer technology module."
Reviewing the upgraded technology for this year at the high school, Mr. Steinberger spoke about the new CAD lab, new library mini-lab, new English lab and new science lab.
Next year, Mr. Steinberger advised, the technology improvements will include upgrading the business lab to Pentium work stations (the existing ones will be recycled, he added); add 12 new stations to the foreign language mini-lab; upgrade the social studies resource room; add four new computers to math research; improve TESL's technology; upgrade CAD lab (i.e. larger monitors); put computers in science offices and do a major network upgrade.
In reviewing 1997, Mr. Steinberger advised the following improvements to Weber's technology program: new computer lab; the sixth-grade classrooms each have three computers and the eighth grade had staff development and hardware upgrades. Limited internet access was provided.
In 1998, the new budget provides for a new computer lab in the 7th grade, a computer lab assistant, a major network upgrade (currently none exists) and full internet access.
In 1997, the elementary schools' technology grew as follows: part-time computer labs assistants; a professional developer; computers placed in K-2 classrooms and full Internet access.
For 1998, the goal is to have three computers in all the K-5 classrooms, make network hardware upgrades, have a full time CLA, library automation, add new computers for special education, reading and TESL.
In general, Mr. Steinberger commented that as the technology advances, "the equity gap will widen." He then reported that the '98 budget includes providing 18-20 Alpha Smart keyboards for those youngsters who don't have a computer at home. In addition, computer lab evening hours are budgeted for.
Dr. Nelson noted, "I'm happily impressed with the progress of the two year program." Mr. Scheer stressed the importance of continually training the staff on the new technologies.
Speaking about the equity issue, Dr. Nelson said. "There's a sense that we want to do more."
The budget for guidance increased 14.45 percent. The major reason for this increase comes from installing a district wide computerized student management system that includes, among other things, scheduling, grades, reports and tests.
The afterschool program in the elementary schools ignited a debate. Board members Mirzoeff and Sussman said that they've wanted to expand and intensify this program for a long time. Mr. Mirzoeff wants to see more intensified afterschool academic programs offered to the elementary students. Both board members said that they've been wanting it placed on the agenda for two years. Board member Bob Scheer responded that this was not done because there "wasn't enough board support" for it.
This year, however, Assistant Superintendent Ann Israel provided suggestions for an upgraded afterschool elementary school program in each of the board members' backup material packet. After studying the issue in terms of student, teacher and principal interest, each building principal submitted a list of six to 10 afterschool activities they believed would work. These include a core group of four clubs: homework, computer, performing or visual arts and recreation (some of these already exist in some schools). In addition to these four, each school would offer its own suggestions tailored to the needs, interests and desires of each school (i.e. the gardening club at Guggenheim).
Broadly stating the implications for a more intense afterschool program, Ms. Israel said it would probably require afterschool busing, which is a "big ticket item," in part because the district would then have to provide busing for the other schools that Port Washington students attend (i.e. St. Peter's, Vincent Smith). Contractual implications would also have to be considered, in addition to equity issues, quality management and determining whether there's enough community support for a more advanced program at the elementary level.
"It's not simple," she said. She suggested that if the board decides it wants to provide a more extensive program for the elementary schools, it needs to study the issues further.
The consensus of the board was that it still had many questions and concerns. Most board members agreed that before any decision could be reached, the matter needed further study and a concrete proposal.
Mr. Mirzoeff said he would not approve this year's budget if the type of afterschool program he envisions is not included in it.
The idea will now be going to the planning committee to discuss the possibility of placing it on an agenda for a work session.
Alan Baer reported that he had gone on the district's facilities tour. He commended the district's director of facilities, Eric Vonderhorst, and his crew for the nonbudgeted work (i.e. building lockers) they do regularly.
He also now feels that the capital budget should be incised from $1.5 to $2 million, in part, because some of the rooms are "closets." He added that Daly is "sorely in need" of work and said the portables are in really bad shape, with windows that can't even be opened.
In terms of technology, Mr. Baer asked that a list of programs used by the school be made available for parents.