ConVal board talks budget proposal, Chromebook initiative 

  • ConVal school board members met for a regular meeting Tuesday night. Some of the conversation revolved around the propose budget. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Two versions of the proposed 2018-2019 budget were presented to the ConVal school board during a regular school board meeting Monday night.

A document titled “Version 5” includes a district assessment of about $35 million. The assessment is a 6.44 percent increase from its currently approved budget of about $33 million. The district’s budget is proposed to be $45,959,763, a 1.28 percent increase. The main reason for the spike in the district assessment is a 12 percent decrease, or about a $1.5 million loss in revenues. The district is pulling about $1.37 million less from its unreserved fund balance in its proposed budget than it did for its current budget. The district is also not receiving any state building aid money, and about $16,500 less in state adequacy grant dollars.

The document titled “Version 6” includes an increase of about $76,000 to the district’s gross budget and overall district assessment. Those dollars would be used to buy athletic teams new helmets. The board asked Superintendent Kimberly Saunders to look into the district’s trust funds to see if those dollars could be taken from an account instead of being raised from taxation.

Saunders said she would gather more information and come back to the board.

Laptop initiative 

The use of Chromebook laptop computers has been implemented in certain grade levels at ConVal.

This past fall, 1:1 learning environments were introduced in grades seven through ten. Implementation in additional grades is slated to happen until the machines are available in grades five through twelve.

The district spent about $221,000 on Chromebooks in the 2017-2018 school year. With that money, the board was able to purchase 710 laptops for students. In the district’s proposed 2018-2019 school year, it hopes to allot about $219,800 toward the initiative, to be used to purchase 680 laptops.

Saunders said if taxpayers vote for the proposed 2018- 2019 budget, the 1:1 rollout planned for the district will be complete for now.

A document handed out to school board members during a regular meeting on Tuesday says the prime motivator for approving the purchase was, in part, done to close equity gaps. In the ConVal school district, and elsewhere, the digital divide that’s formed between kids who have access to information and those have little access or none at all. In the long run, the document says, the inequities can result in uneven chances for employment.

The document says that one of the most profound changes from the blended-learning environment is that students have access to the laptops on demand. That means there will no longer be a need to schedule time in computer labs, and instead, students will have instant access to the web.