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School Officials to Request Technology Funding at Town Meeting

Easton School Officials will present a warrant article at Town Meeting requesting funding for wireless in all schools and upgraded technology.

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.

 

Bob Mielde March 24, 2013 at 04:43 PM
The inaccuracy has to stop. The Capital Planning Commitee is a mixed group, with designated members of the FinCom, Planning and Zoning, as well as the Town Accountant, with several more At Large members appointed by the Town Moderator. The group is tasked with reviewing the Capital Requests of ALL departments in town. ALL come under the same level of scrutiny. Then the group meets with the Town Administrator to review the planned funding levels, sources and his recommendations. The group then PRIORITIZES each request, based upon the criteria dictated by the Town Charter - with Safety being priority one. This year there were $5.3m in total requests. $3.7m were in the T/A recommended list. Water Dept items come from the Water Enterprise fund, and thus are not a part of additional borrowing or taxation. The Capital Planning group heavily challenged many controversial items such as the $525k fire engine; $980k Main Streetscape project; and DPW vehicle replacements. In fact, the Main Street project was put to the BOTTOM of the list. However - the School Committee doesn't know ANY of this, as they were never at a meeting other than their own portion! They need to learn the FACTS before making accusations. The Town IT group has a defined plan, and the department head is very forthcoming each year, with detailed Asset lists. The School has YET to come before the CapPlan committee with an accurate Asset list. Asset Management is mandatory - not optional.
Bob Mielde March 24, 2013 at 04:57 PM
Perhaps it is time for the Town Data Processing Dept. Head to takeover control of the School IT program. Perhaps a Warrant Article by way of Citizens Petition is due. The attitude of some members of the School Committee is disgusting; "We want it all, and not a dollar less!" Really? And with that they threaten to stack Annual Town Meeting to get what they want? "It's just not fair - we're not getting our fair share." Really? WITH employee benefits, the Schools' share is over 53% of the total town budget. They serve approximately 3800+/- of the town 'residents' whilst most of the remainder departments serve 23,000+ residents! The Recreation Dept. survives through fees and donations. The Council on Aging & Veterans live on less than the IT requests of the Schools! Fair? How about the taxpayers sending their students to private school; paying tuition on their own, as well as contibuting to your greed? Maybe we should move toward a 'tuition' based school program? Make the numbers work, as the Charter schools already do... another Citizens Petition? Think about it ladies.
Bob Mielde March 24, 2013 at 05:14 PM
And while on the subject - I am beside myself after reviewing Ellen Barlow's comments in the recent Wicked Local interview. How dare she question the integrity of the members of the FinCom! Had she (or any of her following) taken the time to investigate the professional backgrounds of the members - she should have been embarrassed to reveal her OWN background in comparison! What is REALLY going on here? An 'element' in this town wants COMPLETE control over every aspect, and will stop at nothing to squelch the voices of opposition. Every time somebody outside of that 'element' attempts to actually 'run' for a voted public office - the machine starts again. The last election showed a nervous ring leader rounding the troops via cell phone calls, when she quickly realized that her own candidates might just be behind in votes. It worked. That same group stacks the vote at Town Meeting. Is anybody else out their disgusted with this attitude? Time to speak up. Tired of the frivolous spending sprees? Get to the polls; get to the Town Meeting; BE HEARD. Take Easton Back.
Bob Mielde March 24, 2013 at 05:23 PM
The Town side of general government presents a timely and factual Budget. The Schools DID NOT present ANY budget prior to Town Meeting. They basically thumb their noses at the average taxpayer. There is absolutely NO transparancy. They don't want for you to know what is really going on! BUT - they want what they want - ALL OF IT and they want it NOW ; No questions asked! Anybody remember the School Committee Recall many years ago? Is it time again? How about a Proposition 2 1/2 UNDERRIDE? Google it!
John Q March 24, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Our inventory is wrong? How do you know that? Bob we know your MO. You hate giving the schools money. It's fine to finally admit that. We've known it already for years.
Kim DuBois March 25, 2013 at 01:17 PM
I have a question, has the Town Administrator approved the Capital Budget for the year yet? After the Captial Planning Committee sends the reccomendations into the Town Administrator it is up to them to decide what hits town floor. As I recall, in many years past, the Town Administrator has exercised his right to override the Capital Planning Committee and in fact grant departments their request and put them on the Captial Warrant Article. If the TA decides to keep the schools in the Capital request then the Warrant Article from the schools would not be necessary.
Bob Mielde March 25, 2013 at 05:28 PM
The last 2 years Capital Planning was given Computer/Technology Asset lists that were somewhat shoddy - I did not say that it was 'wrong', but lacked much detail as is generally acceptable in an Asset Management program with a list anywhere to the magnitude of 1000+ units. I have no MO, other than a desire for accuracy and full transparency. You obviously know very little about me or what I am about, based upon your comments. "Say what you do - do what you say".
John Q March 25, 2013 at 07:54 PM
So Bob if Asset Management is Mandatory. Can you please provide all of the inventories that were submitted to you this year? Does the DPW, Fire and Police provide you with an inventory of every item they own? You said "The School has YET to come before the CapPlan committee with an accurate Asset list." So how was it inaccurate? This year the issue your board brought up with our inventory was that it wasn't color coded the way the town does it. Your board brought up security issues this year. Those were answered. I heard elsewhere that your board didn't like the roll out plan. What's next Bob? You mentioned the schools not getting their fair share. You completely took those comments out of context. They were about the Capital requests. I believe at the time of the last override vote there was an agreement that the Capital budget be stil 60/40 between the town and the schools. That is the fair share that the School Department is talking about. Maybe its not the school IT department that needs to be replaced but the Town's Capital Planning board!
Bob Mielde March 25, 2013 at 09:39 PM
In fact the all of the other departments DID provide accurate inventories. Look - the list was crap - and I stated so at that time. I even stated that Mike Deltano's list was concise, with make, model, serial number, date purchased, purchase price, end of warranty date, location, person assigned to, CPU, RAM, software installed & version, - THAT is what I'm talking about. I have the same info at work...it's called GBP! (since you don't appear to be too swift - let me spell that one out for you "Good Business Practice". Security? I watched one of the Capital Planning members hack the 'secure' network right there at Town Hall! I am in that biz, and showed the proposal to my IT guys; they laughed! Also stated that any savvy 8th grader would rip right past the security in minutes. So those were not ANSWERS. The last override may have had provisions for THAT specific override. It wasn't Carte Blanche forever. Oh BTW John Q - I have the testicular fortitude to put my own name out there.
John Q March 25, 2013 at 10:08 PM
So someone hacked the town network. We don't run that network. Maybe you should prong that up with data processing. What does the purchase price matter on the inventory. We have all the POs for that. That board member also couldn't tell if he was on his own 3G connection or the towns wireless. In glad a town elected official is able to speak with such great language. I don't think it's too much to expect some civility. Yeah not sure why my name is John Q. I'm peter Twiraga. Feel free to actually speak to me or the department. You didn't ask much at all when we presented at the Capital Budget meeting. Can you please provide the copies of the other departments? That should be a public record right?
Janet Sroczynski March 25, 2013 at 10:10 PM
@Bob Mielde - good comments. There is Accountability Software for the School Districts available, tracking District And School Expenditures/Investments. In Rhode Island it fell under the category of Article 31, and link found at: http://www.ride.ri.gov/commissioner/edpolicy/Article31.aspx#16-7.1-3
Bob Mielde March 25, 2013 at 11:03 PM
That explains everything...so you are a school IT guy. Are you a taxpayer in Easton, or still living home with your parents? If you actually DID pay taxes, you might have a change of attitude. I rest my case.
John Q March 25, 2013 at 11:22 PM
Wow bob. Glad that you think you have me figured out. However it's wrong. Keep showing your colors. What a great elected official you are for the town.
John Q March 25, 2013 at 11:40 PM
Not to mention bob... The guy that "hacked" the town's network already has the wifi password. You should ask them why they don't have Internet filtering at town hall. Come on over to the high school sometime and try to Hal your way on. You won't be able to do it And there is Internet filtering.
JF March 27, 2013 at 01:56 PM
Right now the taxpayers are broke and tired. The schools ALWAYS want more and more. How about giving up $250,000 worth of other stuff if u want your new IT system? The taxes are higher than any other town here because of the schools having to have every little thing they desire! Im quite tired of the whinning that I have been hearing for decades from this school system. We had to turn down a fire truck? The fire truck comes BEFORE the "wireless internet access"!!

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