Easton school officials will take their request for technology funding to the Town Meeting floor this spring.
The school committee approved a measure Friday that will allow Superintendent Michael Green to draft a Town Meeting Warrant article that could ask for up to $250,000 in technology funding.
The bulk of the funding will be used for wireless networking in the Easton Middle School, Olmsted-Richardson school and three Easton elementary schools. Wireless was already put in place at Oliver Ames High School with the use of School Naming funds this year.
The decision to draft a separate warrant article comes after Easton's Capital Planning Committee agreed to recommend the school department receive $50,000 of the $173,688 it requested for technology.
The Capital Planning Committee recommended approximately $3.7 million in funding this year. In addition to the $50,000 it recommended for school technology, $35,000 was recommended for a new special education van while the remainder of the funding was provided for town resources such as police, fire and the Department of Public Works.
"To me this is about the gross inequity at this point," School Committee member Caroline O'Neill said.
The capital funding request would have only put wireless in Easton Middle School and Olmsted-Richardson with future plans to connect the three elementary schools. The Town Meeting warrant article, however, will ask the town to connect all of the schools.
While the initial estimate to provide wireless in all schools is approximately $107,000, Directory Network Manager Dennis Kitson told School Committee members that the price will likely be less because of the bulk purchase and the overall school department's funding request for technology may be less than $250,000.
"If we bundle it, it will be less," he said.
Green said he will also put together a "thoughtful presentation" for Town Meeting voters.
"I think we need to do a better job of explaining why it's important," Assistant Superintendent Cathy MacLeod said.
The request would also fund upgraded operating licenses for MACs, which are currently operating with 2003 software. Additionally, officials hope to upgrade Adobe licensing and computers in the schools.
"This isn't a situation where we're a trend setter," said Systen Technician Peter Twiraga, adding that the school's wireless software would have good security and a "great firewall" for the safety of the students.
The school committee agreed that providing each classroom with up-to-date technology and wireless access was necessary for modern-day learning.
"This is how they learn when they're at home and then they come to school and we give them a piece of paper," MacLeod said.
Officials are confident that if explained properly, the request for funding will be granted.
"Many, many people in town already know that this is the way forward," O'Neill said.