Technology proposal totals $161K

Plans to consolidate playing a role in budget preparation for next school year

Members of the School Board and Budget Committee, including School Board Chair Geoffrey Brock and School Board member Mary Guild, left, get a first look at the Wilton-Lyndeborough school budget during a joint meeting Tuesday.

Members of the School Board and Budget Committee, including School Board Chair Geoffrey Brock and School Board member Mary Guild, left, get a first look at the Wilton-Lyndeborough school budget during a joint meeting Tuesday. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

WILTON — In a joint meeting of the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School Board and Budget Committee, the boards got a first glance at this year’s budget. The School Board’s hope to put forward a warrant article to consolidate the district’s elementary schools may inform some of the district’s decisions when it comes to purchasing new teaching technology, now totaling $161,000.

In an overlook of the budget presented by Supt. Christine Tyree and Business Administrator Lisa Ambrosio last week, Tyree told the board that the departments had come in with a generally flat budget, within hundreds of dollars of last year’s budget of $11.5 million. There are still some adjustments to be made, however, including staff adjustments, and factoring in an 11 percent jump in the cost of health insurance.

Tyree told the board and committee that the district would be replacing multiple laptops and computers this year at the elementary school. The technology budget proposed for the upcoming year is $161,000.

Twenty-eight laptops each at both Lyndeborough Central School and Florence Rideout Elementary School, which make up each school’s mobile laptop cart, are to be replaced with new, leased units. Additionally, 10 computer lab computers are to be replaced at Lyndeborough Central, 20 at Florence Rideout. That high school is also scheduled to have computers replaced.

Also proposed are four new Promethean projectors for the elementary schools, for a total of $11,000. The projectors allow students and teachers to interact with materials projected onto a whiteboard. Two would be installed at Florence Rideout in a first grade classroom and the other in the computer room, and at the kindergarten and multipurpose room at Lyndeborough Central School.

School Board Vice-Chair Harry Dailey questioned the wisdom of investing in new technology when the intent of the board is to move forward with consolidation of the two elementary schools. Purchasing or leasing enough technology to outfit both schools may leave the district with an excess should the voters approve a consolidation, he pointed out.

Budget Committee member Leslie Browne also questioned whether adding four new Promethean projectors might be excessive in the event that the district decided to consolidate.

Tyree said the two laptop carts would not be excessive, even if the district consolidates. It’s an eventual goal of the district to have a cart per grade, she said. She admitted that when consolidation is taken into account, four new Promethean projectors may be excessive. She said she and Ambrosio would consider that moving forward, but there are other options, should the district decide to consolidate.

Because the projectors are more mobile than Promethean Boards, which the district has in several classrooms, she said, they could be moved to other classrooms in need, without too much effort. The district could leave the Lyndeborough Central projectors in place, as one option for consolidation calls for the kindergarten — where one of the projectors would be — to remain at Lyndeborough, and the projector slated for the multipurpose room could still be used for trainings, Ambrosio said. Another option would be sending any excess projectors to the Wilton-Lyndeborough Middle and High School, which has a three-year plan to incorporate more Promethean projectors into the school.

Costs for books and printed materials are going to be up this year, Tyree noted. The elementary schools will be revamping their math curriculum to align the curriculum at both elementary schools and create a more seamless connection with the middle and high school math curriculum, and will be replacing all the textbooks and materials. The library at the middle and high school is also requesting an $8,000 increase to update its materials as part of a five-year plan to overhaul its book collection. This year, the focus will be on updating the science materials and bringing in additional middle school fiction to broaden the reading material available to younger students.

Tyree also asked the board and committee for feedback on the possibility of purchasing a 350, 1-ton pick up truck for the district’s use. The cost would be approximately $34,000 for the truck and an attached plow, she said. Currently, the district uses employee vehicles when things need to be moved or the district needs to pick up materials, such as sand or mulch.

School Board member Alex LoVerme asked about the frequency that a truck is needed. Lyndeborough Central and Florence Rideout Elementary Principal Tim O’Connell replied that it is quite often, as many as a few times a week. Budget Committee Secretary Dawn Tuomala pointed out that taking on a vehicle meant the district would have to budget for insurance, registration and maintenance.

School Board Chair Geoff Brock told Tyree that the board would need more information about the uses of such a vehicle before making a decision. “I think we need more justification. It’s an idea worth considering but it doesn’t seem like anyone’s ready to jump on it just yet,” said Brock.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on twitter @AshleySaari.

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