TPS bond proposal addresses need for technology
BY ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer
Thursday, February 14, 2013
3/05/13 at 2:26 PM
Tulsa Public Schools is gearing up for a possible $38 million technology and safety bond initiative.
The school board will decide in early March whether to put the "Smart and Secure Schools" proposal before voters. A series of community forums will be held before then so that interested parents and other patrons can learn about the costs and how the funds would be used.
"Our children need to be given every advantage to succeed in an increasingly digital world," Superintendent Keith Ballard said. "We want to give our students every opportunity to become competent in the use of technology, as their college and career readiness will very much depend upon it.
"We look forward to sharing the details of this proposed bond with the community prior to a TPS board decision about whether or not to proceed with it."
The bond would provide funds to improve classroom technology and technology infrastructure, as well as for the installation of fire sprinklers in 11 buildings with wooden structures and updates to school security systems.
A committee of administrators began studying technology needs last fall, and by January, the school board had appointed a 20-member, citizen-led bond development committee to craft a proposal based on needs identified by teachers and principals.
About 1,360 employees, 80 percent of whom were teachers, responded to a districtwide survey that showed overwhelming criticism for the school district's current technology resources and yet a common belief in the importance of technology for improving student achievement.
On a 5-point scale, with 3 considered "acceptable," the average employee rating of the effectiveness of current technology was 2.8, and the age of software used in classroom technology was rated 2.67.
Conversely, the average rating for technology's importance in the classroom was 4.38, or "very important," for affecting student achievement.
The most requested technology needs for a standard classroom include Internet access for all computers, an iPad for the teacher, a laptop for each student desk and electronic textbooks. The most commonly-requested minimum number of computers for classrooms for prekindergarten through second grade was three to five, while "one for every student" was the most common selection for grades three through 12.
Ballard called for the development of a bond proposal last fall, saying the disparity between technology resources in Tulsa and its suburban school counterparts is great.
"TPS is falling behind in technology, and our students are going to pay a heavy price if we don't do something to catch up," he said then.
In the mid-1990s, the district embarked on a 20-year bond plan to update its facilities, classroom and library resources, and Transportation Department.
The district's last bond election was in 2010, when Tulsa voters overwhelmingly approved a $354 million bond package that is mostly dedicated to facility renovations and repairs, including windows, roofs, and heating and air conditioning. The district is still two years away from completing that bond package.
About 10 percent of the five voter-approved bond packages since 1996 have been dedicated to technology. But officials say the Tulsa district has been much more conservative in its level of bonded indebtedness than suburban districts and that, as a result, funding for instructional technology needs has suffered by comparison.
Tulsa Public Schools Smart and Secure Schools bond proposal
All meeting are at 6 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 21: Webster High School Auditorium, 1919 W. 40th St.
Tuesday, Feb. 26: Education Service Center, 3027 S. New Haven Ave.
Thursday, Feb. 28: East Central High School Auditorium, 12150 E. 11th St.
Original Print Headline: TPS bond proposal addresses technology need
Andrea Eger 918-581-8470
Superintendent Keith Ballard: "Our children need to be given every advantage."