Prop 1 will provide Fort Worth high school students with a laptop or tablet to use at home or school

Posted Monday, Sep. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Prop 1 and technology The Fort Worth school district’s bond proposal includes $102,490,834 for technology upgrades, which is 27 percent of the proposed projects in Proposition 1. Network electronics: Replace older switches and cables with updated equipment and add capacity to support additional devices. These items are necessary for computers to connect with the Internet. Cost: $12,657,941 Distance learning: Purchase and install video conferencing equipment including cameras and screens. This will also allow teachers to record lessons for students to review. Cost: $5,022,880 Classroom wireless access point: Install equipment that will allow users to connect wirelessly to the Internet using their devices including cell phones, laptops and tablets. Cost: $8,581,874 Telephone system upgrades: Complete conversion to the district’s new phone system at a handful of remaining campuses. Cost: $770,288 Classroom computers, servers, cabling and printers: Replace older technology with new equipment as part of the district’s continual replacement cycle. This includes replacement laptops for use with interactive white boards and replacement of desktop computers for classrooms and administration. Cost: $46,586,108 Mobile computing: Provide mobile devices, such as laptops or tablets to high school students for use at home and school. Cost: $14,969,443 Replace parts: Projectors for interactive white boards, bulbs and cables. Cost: $13,902,300 Source: Fort Worth ISD
Projected tax increase The three propositions are projected to add up to 3 cents to the tax rate, costing $30 more per year for a $115,599 home with a $15,000 homestead exemption, the value of an average home in the district. • Proposition 1 would add about 1 cent to the tax rate, costing $10 more per year. • Proposition 2 would add an additional 1.25 cents to the tax rate. • Proposition 3 would add an additional 0.75 cent to the tax rate. The current tax rate is $1.322, with $1.04 for operations and 28 cents for debt repayment. Source: Fort Worth school district

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One in an ongoing series about the Nov. 5 Fort Worth school bond election.

Launching Internet hotspots and enabling students to travel the world via video conferencing are two components of Proposition 1, a $386.6 million bond proposal to be decided by voters Nov. 5.

District officials propose spending $102.5 million for technology, including $15 million for laptops or tablets that would be issued to high school students for use at home and school. Technology upgrades make up nearly a third of Proposition 1, which also includes money for classroom additions, universal pre-kindergarden, and security upgrades.

“It’s not the pen and paper days, so we have to figure out how we are going to reach those kids. We don’t want them to power down when they come into the classroom,” said Kyle Davie, chief technology officer. “You’ve got to keep them stimulated. You’ve got to get them engaged. If the student is engaged, the opportunity for learning is greatly increased.”

If voters approve Proposition 1, students will have wireless Internet access from anywhere on campus. New distance-learning hubs will allow the district to offer specialized classes to students on multiple campuses. Currently, that technology is only available for a small number of courses, leaving students to travel by bus to another campus for specialized courses.

Take-home devices are becoming more commonplace on Texas campuses. Districts have set up protocols for student use, installed content filters and offered affordable insurance programs that Fort Worth officials say they will follow.

In 2009, high school students in Northwest school district were issued mini-laptops called netbooks. This year, Northwest students received Dell Latitude 10 tablets. Students at Brewer High School in White Settlement were issued an iPad4 under a program funded by $4.3 million from the district’s oil and gas revenues over the last six years.

The key to implementing some of these projects will be providing enough technical support and staff training to make sure the technology is tied to curriculum, said Superintendent Walter Dansby. A new assistant superintendent for educational technology will be hired to coordinate the district’s use of technology regardless of the outcome of Proposition 1.

“We’re going to make sure that we put in place consistent training in technology for our staff. It’s not one of those that we introduce it to them, give them a day or so of training and walk away,” Dansby said. “We’re going to put plans in place where we consistently revisit our technology and how it is being used in the classroom.”

Jessamy Brown, 817-390-7326 Twitter: @jessamybrown

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