Friday, 08 March 2013 00:00
As reported to the Board of Education
The town of Manhasset has made a strong commitment to instructional technology since 1996 when it dedicated $3 million of a $21.5 School District Bond Referendum toward network infrastructure and end user hardware. By partnering with the Manhasset Tower Foundation and the SCA on a number of initiatives, and by judiciously employing advances in technology, the district’s network has grown stronger and faster while holding costs stable. With the proposed 2013-14 budget the average year-to-year increase over the past five years is 1.29%. During the same time period student population has increased as have the number of IT devices, software titles and IT infrastructure to allow for increased and more flexible access to the Manhasset computer network.
Among the private-public partnerships in which the district has engaged are the following:
• Installation of a wireless network in all three schools, covering grades 4–6 in the elementary schools and the entire secondary school – (Manhasset Tower Foundation)
• Installed and maintained 198 SmartBoards – (Manhasset Tower Foundation)
• Installed and maintained Sanako World Languages Lab – (Manhasset Tower Foundation)
• Installed and maintained Mac graphics lab – (Manhasset Tower Foundation)
• Installed and maintained a computer instructional area within the MP Library – (Manhasset Tower Foundation)
• Installed and maintained a mobile science lab in the HS – (Manhasset School Community Association)
• Received the gift of a major renovation to the high school media center, which will enter its second phase this summer. (Manhasset Tower Foundation)
• Cost Saving technological advances include:
Server virtualization – reducing hardware, electrical and management costs
• Web-based software licensing agreements – reducing per seat license costs while increasing access to include home use for students and staff
• Introduced student email and cloud storage for students in grades 12
• Updated inventory control software and overhauled inventory processes
• iPads utilized for students with learning disabilities–reducing software and hardware costs
• Joined the Nassau BOCES Microsoft Consortium to achieve consistency of software version releases while evening out price fluctuations
• A “Bring Your Own Device” initiative for students and staff in the secondary school
• Desktop virtualization also allowed the district to responsibly move from its five-year rotation policy resulting in a savings of $225,571 from 2012-14
Manhasset is investigating participation in the Nassau BOCES BO-TIE initiative as a cost effective means of achieving recommended network redundancy for disaster recovery.
Challenges that we face in the upcoming years include the following:
• Mandated Computer Based Testing (CBT)
The New York State Education Department has released purchasing guidelines for school districts beginning in 2014 indicating a substantial hardware outlay.
• In addition to portable devices we would need to buy multiple carts for their storage and transportation; Estimated cost for devices and carts - $287,900.
• Existing wifi service would need to be greatly augmented in each building.
• Digital Literacy Levels
• The National Broadband Plan
Released in 2010 this national plan recognizes the economic importance of achieving digital literacy among all citizens
• Partnership for the 21st Century
Public-private organization seeking to address career readiness for 21st century job market - advocates digital, information and media literacy.
• The National Education Technology Plan
Calls for all schools to bring “state-of-the art technology into learning to enable, motivate, and inspire all students, regardless of background, languages, or disabilities, to achieve”
Each of the above illustrates the fact that, as society becomes increasingly reliant on the use of technology for economic, social and political activity, all citizens must become effective users of technology. Digital literacy skills are no longer elective or enrichment skills, rather, they are perquisites for academic and economic success.
Both students and teachers must become increasingly digitally literate while maintaining content knowledge as called for by the Common Core State Standards. How will schools meet this challenge? A large number of research studies document the academic value of well-funded library media programs. Manhasset values and is fortunate to have certified library media specialists in each of its school libraries. Unfortunately, however, reductions in support staffing in the libraries and computer labs has negatively impacted the ability of the librarians and computer specialists to assist students and staff. Student access to these spaces has decreased, as have the professional development opportunities the library and computer teachers had been able to provide in years past, when full-time teacher assistants were assigned to these settings. A restoration of these support positions has been requested in the 2013-14 budget.