Questions

 

  1. What is going to be purchased with this bond?
  2. How is it that we can install new technology (such as wireless networking) now when there are not any renovations being done to the older buildings?
  3. Will all six elementary buildings be updated with wireless technology?
  4. Is this bond going to buy an iPad for each of our youngest learners like other districts are doing?
  5. Will the technology be transferable in case we start to rebuild some of our schools?
  6. How much will my taxes increase and for how long?
  7. Is the Curriculum still incorporating handwriting skills in the younger grades? Will we move away from that as we incorporate technology?
  8. Why would our youngest learners (K, 1st grade) need interactive whiteboards and computers?
  9. Does the district expect that ongoing technology needs will necessitate renewal of this millage 5 years from now?
  10. As more and more personal electronic teaching tools are made available to our students, how will the school district ensure that their focus will remain on classroom learning and not on other tempting uses for those gadgets?
  11. What portion of this bond issue is budgeted to items that will be disposed of if there's a future renovation?
  12. Is the district using Universal Service Fund to fund technology?
  13. What opportunity would there be for continuing review of the security portion of the bond proposal?
  14. What is the anticipated timeline for the start and completion of the work?
  15. Assuming that the sinking fund does not cover equipment purchases, such as whiteboards and document cameras, is the bond the source of funding for those items for the new 6th grade wing at MMS? If it does not pass, what is our backup plan for equipping those classrooms with appropriate teaching tools?
  16. Many of our K-12 classrooms do not have dedicated whiteboards and document cameras in their rooms. In the past, funding for this equipment has come from parent councils and the ELEF. Will the bond equip all classrooms with these tools so these organizations can return their focus to other funding need, (field trips, special speakers, etc)?
  17. How many iPads, laptops, desktop computers, e‑readers, do you plan to purchase with bond dollars in the first year?
  18. Is there a detailed breakdown of the total dollars that will be spent each year and on what?
  19. What has the district done in the past few years about purchasing technology?
  20. What will happen if this bond doesn't pass?
  21. Why is it important to have updated communication systems and computers?
  22. How will the telephone system change?
  23. How many sets of mobile computer stations (labs) will be provided for each elementary building?
  24. Will there be any attention given to the interior classroom door locks?
  25. How can the technology put in now be used if there are major renovations to the school? How adequate are our buildings to handle the upgrades to technology?
  26. What will be done with old computers or laptops that still work, but are old?
  27. How do we help address the inequities in our community, including our School of Choice students, who may come from an economically challenged home?
  28. How do you address the concern of students texting in class, online in chat rooms, etc.
  29. How do you plan to link with the East Lansing Public Library?

 

Answers
 

1. What is going to be purchased with this bond?

The three categories covered by the bond are technology, security, and communications.

Technology- The district has not invested in its technology infrastructure since the bond of 2001. The buildings need updated wireless technology and switching hardware to build a foundation to support current and future educational technology needs. Servers and computers need to be replaced or upgraded and classroom technology needs to be readily accessible for all students.

Security- Many technological tools have been developed in recent years to assist in securing our school buildings. Access controlled doors that are operated by proximity access "fobs" or "cards" allow the district to restrict access to the buildings and spaces within the buildings and if lost or stolen, unlike a key, the fob/card may be deactivated preventing misuse.

Communications- The school district’s communications system, paging, bells, and telephone gear are over twenty years old. Operating and maintaining these older systems utilizes district technology resources inefficiently. Updated versions of these tools will be integrated into the district data network providing an easier interface to operate and maintain them.

2. How is it that we can install new technology (such as wireless networking) now when there are not any renovations being done to the older buildings?

Technology and the related infrastructure are most efficiently installed when coupled with significant construction projects to construct or remodel existing spaces. The costs to wire to and provide electrical power and pathways for technology outside of a construction project are less economical but essential for the systems to function when delivering the increasingly multimedia rich curriculum.

 

3. Will all six elementary buildings be updated with wireless technology?

Yes, all classroom and learning spaces will have ample wireless technology coverage.

4. Is this bond going to buy an iPad for each of our youngest learners like other districts are doing?

The bond will be used to update critical technology infrastructure to support the new technology devices that will be deployed over four years throughout all learning spaces. The Technology Committee will continuously evaluate all devices that support teaching and learning. This includes, classroom response “clickers”, iPads, laptops, desktop computers, e-readers, and many devices likely to enter the market during the duration of the bond expenditures.

5. Will the technology be transferable in case we start to rebuild some of our schools?

Yes, much of the technology would transfer to new locations. Items such as cabling, raceways, and power improvements would likely not transfer.

6. How much will my taxes increase and for how long?

The average millage increase is 1.25 mills for the next five years. The formula to calculate the annual impact to an individual taxpayer is: 1.25 x taxable value of property / 1,000 = tax increase to support the technology bond.

7. Is the Curriculum still incorporating handwriting skills in the younger grades? Will we move away from that as we incorporate technology?

Hand writing w/ the exception of signature is not formally taught. Technologies are clearly outpacing the need for formal handwriting instruction.

8. Why would our youngest learners (K, 1st grade) need interactive whiteboards and computers?

Interactive whiteboards provide for significantly improved levels of student engagement, enriched and accelerated lessons, access to interactive Internet/world wide web resources to impact instruction, and interconnected print and web resources that students use in their lives everyday.

Our youngest learners have adapted to a world that demands a skill set that grows increasingly resource rich requiring all students to navigate the world in a much different manner.

9. Does the district expect that ongoing technology needs will necessitate renewal of this millage 5 years from now?

Any technology that is incorporated into our classrooms or the buildings needs to be sustained, upgraded, and eventually replaced. Our current planning takes this support and sustainability into consideration and we do recognize the need for a renewable source of funding for the future. Many options have been discussed and we will use the time we have to design a thoughtful, intelligent plan for maintaining and renewing the district's investment in technology.

10. As more and more personal electronic teaching tools are made available to our students, how will the school district ensure that their focus will remain on classroom learning and not on other tempting uses for those gadgets?

As technology tools are added to the classroom, we must adequately train our teaching staff on those tools so that they recognize when and how best to utilize them. Students must also be educated on the appropriate use of the technology. Federal guidelines under CIPA (Children's Internet Protection Act, http://www.fcc.gov/guides/childrens-internet-protection-act) requires school districts to annually educate students on appropriate online behavior, cyberbullying, and social media. It is our responsibility, as educators and parents, to teach our students and children ethical and appropriate behavior when it comes to technology. This very topic is a national conversation and the district Technology Committee will focus on the integration of smart-device technology into the classroom and what will work best for ELPS classrooms.

11. What portion of this bond issue is budgeted to items that will be disposed of if there's a future renovation?

The only items that might not be transferable would be wiring and possibly speakers, depending on the cost for replacement. Overall, anything disposed of would be a very small line item. Special attention has been given to this question and we will work to ensure that anything that can be saved is saved. The timing of projects can also play a part in determining if a renovation will take place before or after any cabling.

12. Is the district using Universal Service Fund to fund technology?

The district does in fact participate in the Universal Service Fund, or E-Rate. This federal funding is based on free and reduced lunch counts and the district currently qualifies for a 54% discount on telephone service and Internet bandwidth, which is considered Priority 1 funding. Our percentages are not high enough for us to qualify for discounts related to technology hardware or maintenance on the hardware, which is considered Priority 2 funding.

13. What opportunity would there be for continuing review of the security portion of the bond proposal?

Building security and the safety of our students is an ongoing review process that goes beyond this bond project. As it applies to this bond, we have allocated funds to address video surveillance, electronic locking doors, and communication systems that play a part in the overall security and safety of our students. As this bond develops, we will continuously review our security plans and measures and seek input from outside sources to ensure that we are making the best decision for our schools and our students.

14. What is the anticipated timeline for the start and completion of the work?

If the bond passes, the funding would be available close to May but we would start drafting plans and requests for proposals in March so that we could start work on larger projects right when school is released in June. Some of the projects will last several months, such as the bells, clocks and public address systems, and other projects would require a significant amount of configuration and planning but will be implemented in a very short period of time. The replacement of student and staff computers is an ongoing project based on our annual replacement schedule. The website will keep a very detailed timeline for the projects as they move through their various phases.

It is also worth noting that 85% of the bond proceeds must be spent within the first 3 years. This is a guiding factor in determining when projects are started and completed and in what order.

15. Assuming that the sinking fund does not cover equipment purchases, such as whiteboards and document cameras, is the bond the source of funding for those items for the new 6th grade wing at MMS? If it does not pass, what is our backup plan for equipping those classrooms with appropriate teaching tools?

Should the bond pass, the money has been allocated to provide those tools for every classroom, regardless of what building they are in. If the bond does not pass, technology devices will be relocated from their existing classrooms to the new classrooms.

16. Many of our K-12 classrooms do not have dedicated whiteboards and document cameras in their rooms. In the past, funding for this equipment has come from parent councils and the ELEF. Will the bond equip all classrooms with these tools so these organizations can return their focus to other funding need, (field trips, special speakers, etc)?

If the bond passes, funds have been allocated to ensure that every classroom is equipped with a standard baseline of equipment so that every teacher has access to the same equipment and every student has access to the same learning experience. We believe that this bond will play a part in numerous district initiatives, to include the achievement gap, by ensuring equality and accessibility for every ELPS student.

17. How many iPads, laptops, desktop computers, e‑readers, do you plan to purchase with bond dollars in the first year?

In year one, we must address the oldest PC's and laptops, which are in the High School. We would purchase approximately 425 student and teacher desktop computers and 90 laptops. There aren't any plans at this time to purchase iPads or eReaders in year one.

18. Is there a detailed breakdown of the total dollars that will be spent each year and on what?

The bond brochure that was mailed out (also available on the district website) includes a general breakdown of the expenditures by year. To be more detailed would seem disingenuous as technology projects require a degree of flexibility and technologies change very rapidly. We have worked to be detailed but done so with the caveat that many factors will influence this schedule.

19. What has the district done in the past few years about purchasing technology?

ELPS has put off many technology purchases because of the limited budget. Technology purchases cannot come out of the sinking fund either (per state law). Some parent councils have purchased interactive whiteboards, as well as other technology, for their individual schools and the ELEF has been very active in providing the funds for classroom technology purchases.

20. What will happen if this bond doesn't pass?

Money from the general fund will need to be used to make some of the necessary purchases but other purchases will continue to be passed along. The available general fund budget for technology is inadequate for larger purchases such as the district telephone system or an upgraded wireless network. With shrinking funding from the state as well as increased costs, this will put a serious burden on ELPS general budget.

21. Why is it important to have updated communication systems and computers?

Communication systems: During a recent hardware failure with the phone system at Pinecrest Elementary, the servicing company lacked any technicians with knowledge about the 20 year old hardware. In the end, the replacement part was acquired from a 'personal collection' of hardware from an out-of-state phone technician. When communication hardware is so old that replacement parts are no longer manufactured and certified technicians have no knowledge of the hardware, then that communication system has become a burden. A 20 year old phone system also lacks twenty years of technological gains and features associated with use, management, and most importantly, 911 call handling.

Computers: Staff and students are daily reminded of the age and condition of the computers when the boot up time leads to a loss of instruction and learning time. When the ten year old computers fail to respond quickly to mouse clicks, when Internet videos freeze, and when current software can't even be loaded on the PC, then the technology becomes a burden to the classroom and a frustration for the user. Replacement parts become hard to find or they cost equal to or more than current parts.

When the teaching and learning is limited by the tools and technology becomes a hindrance to instruction, then we become aware that the time to act is upon us.

22. How will the telephone system change?

The current phone system is a PBX-based system with switching hardware in every building. The switches are three different models, all approximately 15-20 years of age. We are proposing to move to a Voice Over IP system (VOIP). This updated system is more integrated with the ELPS network and allows for greater management, greater features, and COST. VOIP systems cost far less to manage, support and maintain.

Many of the classroom telephone handsets are older and will also be replaced with the change in phone systems.

We also consider the phone system to play a part in building security and an updated phone system will have improved 911 call functionality allowing the exact location in the building to be identified when a call is placed. We will also evaluate the option to tie the phone system into the building PA, allowing for a more integrated communication system.

23. How many sets of mobile computer stations (labs) will be provided for each elementary building?

Each K-6 building will start with three laptop carts, 30-32 devices per cart. We believe that the carts will be checked out on a regular basis and we will monitor the use of the carts and add as needed and as the budget permits.

We have to consider the daily use of the equipment, the demand from the teachers and having adequate devices to support online assessments. The Technology Committee will stay focused on this project through the 5 year life of the bond.

24. Will there be any attention given to the interior classroom door locks?

Yes. We are currently securing pricing to replace the current key-locking doors with push button-locking doors. This expense may precede the bond and be paid for with other funding means.

25. How can the technology put in now be used if there are major renovations to the school? How adequate are our buildings to handle the upgrades to technology?

The infrastructure-related upgrades (telephone system, bells, clocks, PA, classroom audio systems, wireless network) all require wiring throughout the building and into the classrooms. In major renovation is done in the future, care will be given to the wiring to preserve the work that is done with this bond. Any later renovation work would not be done at the expense of this work- meaning, we wouldn't remove wiring, speakers, or clocks unless it couldn't be helped due to the renovation in a particular area.

If renovations impact particular classrooms, then the technology in those rooms would be cared for during the renovation and reinstalled or put back in place after the renovation work.

Regarding the adequacy of the buildings- without renovating the buildings, more time and attention will have to be given to the conduit used to run cabling/wiring. In many areas, surface raceway will have to be used and it will be visible. With renovations, much of that wiring could be hidden in walls and ceilings. In regards to the wireless network, it's possible that a higher quantity of access points (aka wireless routers) will have to be installed to provide coverage throughout the building.

26. What will be done with old computers or laptops that still work, but are old?

The older machines that are determined to have no functioning value for the district will most likely be sold for scrap to companies that work with public education and are certified to properly dispose of the components. Computers that retain value will either be repurposed within the district or they may be sold to the public, in keeping with state regulations regarding the sale of equipment.

27. How do we help address the inequities in our community, including our School of Choice students, who may come from an economically challenged home?

A large focus for this bond is to address the existing inequities between the buildings in regards to access to technology. In regards to the home, we have been exploring available resources that might be beneficial to families, such as the Internet Essentials program through Comcast. This program offers affordable internet access and a low-cost computer with enrollment. For more information on this program, you can visit InternetEssentials.com/partner

28. How do you address the concern of students texting in class, online in chat rooms, etc.

The inclusion of technology can certainly make classroom management more of an issue than it is, but with proper training, the teaching staff can use the technology to increase student engagement. Adequate and ongoing professional development is necessary with this bond and that education plays a role in proper technology use and management.

Any texting that is done in classrooms is done with student-owned devices and teachers will continue to manage that as they do now. This bond will not provide that style of smart device to the students.

Another component of this is student education regarding appropriate online behavior. The Children's Internet Protection Act requires every school district to education students regarding appropriate online behavior and ELPS works with the MI Attorney General's office to provide that education.

29. How do you plan to link with the East Lansing Public Library?

The school district is currently not linked with the ELPL through any network infrastructure nor are there any plans to move towards a joined network infrastructure.