Archive for Thursday, September 20, 2001

Terrorist attacks ground USD 232 planned NetSchools fact-finding trip

September 20, 2001

Last week's terrorist attack delayed a De Soto school district trip to Pennsylvania to look at the NetSchools Inc. laptop in a school setting.

Superintendent Marilyn Layman along with several school board members had planned a trip to Pittsburgh, Pa., for that purpose. But because of last Tuesday's terrorist events, the trip has been rescheduled.

The delay won't prevent the district from realizing its goal of starting the phase in of the NetSchools next fall, Layman said.

"Our trip is postponed," Layman said, "but we expect to complete the phase-in process on time as scheduled."

NetSchools is the new technology program the board hopes to phase in to all district schools. The program will provide laptop computers to students. At school, the laptops access the Internet via radio frequency. The laptops can handle regular phone line ports at home. For students without home Internet access, material can be downloaded into the computers from Web sites chosen for their compatibility with the district's curriculum.

Layman and board members expected to learn more about NetSchools and the funding required to make the plans a reality in De Soto schools. They then expected to be able to provide an outline of costs to the entire board Monday night. The group will make the trip in October instead.

Monday, board member Bill Waye took the opportunity to voice his concerns about technology funding.

Current funding stems from a bond issue providing technology funding for 20 years. Waye said NetSchools could be outdated in eight years, and then the board might be stuck.

"Maybe we should see about financing bonds for five years instead of 20, " Waye said.

Other board members showed some support. Board member Marsha Bennett suggested that bonds for five years were used in the past and were not well received. But she thought they might be more appropriate now.

Several board members agreed that further discussion on the matter might be warranted.

All members agreed that for now and the foreseeable future, NetSchools was the best and most promising technology for learning, and they plan to pursue its implementation in the district as soon as possible.

Tuesday night's school board meeting included a discussion of how the community was affected by last week's terrorist attacks. Board members reported both incidences of support and selfishness.

Layman explained to the board that Clear Creek Elementary School had served as a communication source for one DeSoto woman stranded in Washington, D.C. The woman was able to get word to her children that she was fine by e-mailing the school.

Layman also spoke of the sense of togetherness and support felt at sporting events and services, which she said brought comfort to many in the district.

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