Barresi wants lottery proceeds to fund school technology
BY ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer
Thursday, January 31, 2013
1/31/13 at 2:42 PM
HOWE -- State Superintendent Janet Barresi on Thursday called on the Legislature to halt the use of lottery proceeds as a source of state aid to public schools and dedicate it to school technology needs.
Speaking before a state Board of Education meeting at one of the most technologically advanced schools in the state, Barresi told the Tulsa World,
"I want to work with the Legislature on this, with the provison that the hole (in state aid) be filled and to use lottery money in the way it was intended, which was for the 'extra' or 'special' things needed to enhance education.
"If we're going to prepare kids for the 21st century, we need to provide them with the technology tools they need. I want to take the Howe lesson and expand it to the state," she said.
Each year, $30 million to $34 million from the state lottery is used as a source of state aid payments to public schools across the state.
Barresi said she will be seeking a permanent dedicated revenue stream for technology needs fed by that lottery money.
"We need to work on connectivity, bandwidth, devices and professional development," Barresi told the state board later. "This won't be the amount of money every district needs, but it will be a basis for them to build from.
"I give our state a C- in connectivity. We need to improve our bandwidth and build up our infrastructure," she said.
Every one of the 500-plus students in the public school in this tiny LeFlore County town have access to world-class technology and use it in almost every aspect of their education and even some of their extracurricular activities and athletics.
Primarily through grant funding, Howe Public Schools began purchasing laptops for every child nearly 10 years ago and training its teachers how to make its use in the curriculum "authentic and seamless," said Tammy Parks, technologry coordinator.
Touring classrooms before Thursday afternoon's meeting, Barresi and board members saw students taking advanced coursework unavailable on site through an online program and examples of student writing and artwork done with digital tools.
Senior English teacher Kim Rauser showed off her students' latest creative writing project, a personal "bucket list" of things they want to do before they die. The projects were laced with examples of at least a dozen different software programs and "apps" to which Howe students have access.
"This really integrates their ability to learn how to think about things with technology and it includes creativity," said Lee Baxter, a state board member from Lawton.
"It's an outlet that personalizes education for our students," replied Parks, the technology coordinator.