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Falls Church Council, School Board Agree on Technology Need

Groups assure public they both agree schools need technology upgrade.

The passionate debate was absent but the fact still remains Falls Church City Public Schools don’t have the $500,000 needed to upgrade the school’s technology.

City council and FCCPS School Board officials agreed Thursday night that there is a need to upgrade the school’s technology. The question is what’s the best way to get the money?

“I have not met one person on city council that wants to cut funding for technology in the schools,” said Greg Rasnake, a member of the school board. “It’s just a debate on how and when to do it.”

Council on two proposals Monday that would have given the schools and the city portions of a surplus of more than $2.8 million. Instead, the money will go into the city’s fund balance. Toni Jones, FCCPS superintendent, said the system wanted to use the money to buy 500 iPads and 700 laptops for the schools.

The discussion was heard by about two dozen people at the American Legion Post in Falls Church Thursday night for what was slated as a Falls Church City Republican Committee forum. Instead, because more than two council members were in attendance and prepared to speak, the forum was turned into a special council meeting with seven topics.

Hinged on Monday’s failure to reach a majority vote on a proposal that would have put $500,000 worth of technology into the schools, that debate carried over.

Mark Kaye, who said he has a child in the city’s school system, said a focus should be placed on working within the means of what is available. He said the city and school system should consider a technology fee for parents with children in FCCPS schools or let the students bring their own iPads and laptops into their classes.

“We have a tough economical situation here in the city,” Kaye said. “We have to work within our means.”

Councilman Ira Kaylin echoed Rasnake’s sentiment that it’s not a question whether the schools need the new technology. He said the city found itself with more money than expected and it made more sense to put that money toward long-term projects.

“You want to take your one-time surplus and put it into something long-term,” Kaylin said. “You don’t take your second mortgage and go buy groceries.”

Mayor Nader Baroukh and council members Ira Kaylin, Johanna Barry, Dave Tarter and Ron Peppe were in attendance at last night's meeting.

Sandy August 17, 2012 at 01:05 PM
A technology fee for all parents to fund needed technology in the schools? And if the parents don't have the money for the fee, what then? Are their children denied access to the use of the technology at their public education school? The presumption that all of these children have ipads and laptops at home to bring into schools is laughable. I do agree that we should have a BYOD (bring your own device) capability for those that DO have the technology at home that they can bring into the classroom, but I suspect that is not the norm.
Andy Rankin August 17, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Sandy, I think there are technical challenges related to a BYOD approach (making sure everything is compatible and functioning properly, for example) that can probably be overcome but would have costs associated with them. It might also complicated figuring out who has the means to bring their own device and who doesn't.
Sandy August 17, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Andy, I agree with you. I just wanted to demonstrate a larger view of the issue - going forward, the schools (and the city, for that matter) should be looking at BYOD as a cost savings, allowing employees who use mobile devices to use their own as opposed to a city-issued one. I also agree with you on the fact that the schools shouldn't "require" (and I know that's a strong word) students to bring their own devices. I don't know too many families that have dedicated ipads or laptops for the under -12 year old citizens in our community.

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