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School Committee Sees Need For New District Technology Director

While no decision was made on Monday night and no decision may be made this year due to budgetary pressures, the role may be filled sometime in the near future if Monday's meeting was any indication.

 

Westford’s schools will more than likely have to face another year of difficult decisions during this spring’s discussions on the next fiscal year’s budget, and one of those decisions was up front and center during Monday night’s School Committee meeting.

Members on the board brought three school level technology directors to testify on the possibility of reintroducing a districtwide technology coordinator, refilling a role that was vacated four years ago.

After hearing reports gathered from the trio presented by Crisafulli School technology director Andrea Gardner that members of the board believed helped crystallize the reasoning to bring back a director, a variety of other reasons were also brought forth to help support the need for filling the position ranging from saving money through better planning of services and increased direct assistance for students on technology issues.

Regarding the possible responsibilities of a new director, possibilities for helping parents understand dangers children may face was also joined by helping younger children and their parents better understand the array of technology they will use in schools.

“The turnover in technology is going faster than ever than ever in my life,” said School Committee member Arthur Benoit. “We need to have a focused attack (when it comes to technology policies) and someone at the top level of the district defining what that technology is.”

Gardner and her colleagues spoke of the need on that note for someone that could unify the “nine islands” of the school district and spread best practices effectively.

“We get very excited (about new technologies) at our own buildings, and we want to share what we find works with each other, but it’s difficult since we’re so involved with our own buildings,” said Abbot School technology director Lisa Sanderson. “We find ideas, but they come and stay with us. We might be able to get one or two teachers to use it in the classroom, but it’s hard for anything to truly catch on.”

The strongest voice of opposition came from Margaret Murray, who still supported bringing back the position, only in Fiscal Year 2015 rather than ’14, also noting that the responsibilities with the position would have to include helping further integrate technology to simplify administrative tasks as well as an overarching strategy on technology centered around a new director.

The School Committee will be on hand to testify to a joint budget hearing of the Finance Committee and the Board of Selectmen on Thursday evening.

CORRECTION: The decision to place a line item for the technology coordinator position was not made on Monday, but rather at the last School Committee meeting.

Other additions include...

3 Literacy Specialists at grades 3-5 to address recent MCAS deficiencies 

Reading Interventionist hours at Abbot & Crisafulli to achieve equity with Day

Reading and Math Interventionist hours for grade 8 students 

.4 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) Math Teacher at WA to reduce class sizes below 30 students

.4 FTE English Teacher at WA to replace Alternative Ed teacher now teaching English

Instructional Technology Specialist WA (Increase from 1.5 to 2.0 FTE)

3 Special Ed Teacher Assistants 

.2 FTE Mandarin teacher for new Mandarin section

.4 FTE Math Teacher to allow Curriculum Coordinator to assume those duties full time

.4 FTE ELA Teacher to allow Curriculum Coordinator to assume those duties full time

Martin Luther February 10, 2013 at 09:56 PM
You have no clue what it is in store for FY15 and beyond. Would you believe layoff of 120 teachers, 10 policemen, 8 firemen, 20 miscellaneous town employees. The alternative is and increase of 16% to 18% in real estate taxes.
Townie February 10, 2013 at 10:35 PM
More gloom and Doom from JJ (Note last year he made such doomsday predictions for FY2014)
Martin Luther February 11, 2013 at 01:32 AM
Townie!!! Westford is formulating FY14 budget now. Read the Patch on the differences between FinCom, Town Manager and School Committee for the FY14 budget to be presented to the 23 March 2013 Annual Town Meeting. My predictions are based on facts and 30 plus years of experience on the structure and operations of local government.
Townie February 11, 2013 at 10:27 AM
Looks then like WPS Teachers will be likely 'working to rule' indefinitely in 2014 because if things are as bad as Jesse says for FY2015 guess the contract tendered to teachers next year is gonna be a last year repeat insulting and the games will begin. Looks like town meeting next month is going to be such a 3 ring circus that I will expect midgets shot from cannon, elephants, monkeys, clown cars and the like. I find it 'interesting' then that as we are on the supposed verge of mass layoffs that the initial school budget for next year included numerous NEW positions. Something doesnt smell right if you know what Im sayin
Alex Finnegan April 08, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Looking at the budget means nothing to most people. You have to know how to "read" them and decipher the slick moves.

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