A vote on the request may come either tonight or on December 8th. (Item 7.16 -- link may change)
Update at 5:54 pm:
I'm sitting in a meeting of the Finance committee where we had discussion of this matter and asked questions of staff. We will discuss it again in the full board meeting later this evening. The funds are federal funds that come with very specific restrictions.
- The funds must be for one-time expenses (not ongoing commitments such as raising salaries).
- The funds must improve student achievement for students with disabilities.
- Purchase of assistive technology is recommended (though not required) by the federal government to meet the other criteria
- Because 63% of students with disabilities are included in regular education classrooms, the regular education classrooms are eligible for the technology. The technology then benefits not just students with disabilities but also general education students.
- The funds requested by the administration will be used for purchase and installation of the devices themselves but also for training in how to use them.
- The electronic whiteboards come with speakers and a remote microphone for use by the teacher. The use of this audio assistive technology has been shown to improve the achievement of elementary school students, something I don't think we can say about the whiteboards. If this is approved, and I suspect it will be, I hope that teachers will adopt use of the audio assistance.
If you have ideas of what would be better than whiteboards and still meet these criteria, please let the Board know.
Update 10:25pm: The Board took up the purchase as an action item. I moved to table it until the next meeting to give us more time to explain this to our constiuents and explore the alternatives. The motion did not receive a second. The Board voted 7-1 to accept the transfer. I voted against it because I don't believe the community supports it yet.