Fairfield schools struggle to keep up with technology

Fairfield’s permanent improvement levy failed in 2008, and since then that fund has been nearly depleted. Permanent improvement money, which is typically used to fund building or repair projects, was also sometimes used to fund technology purchases, said Treasurer Nancy Lane.

This has prompted the district to turn to alternate sources of funding, such as Parents and Teachers for Children (PTC), the district’s parent-teacher organization, said Lane.

But Dan Jeffers, the district’s technology director says it’s not entirely accurate to say the district is “behind” technologically.

“There are districts that are farther ahead than Fairfield, but there are also districts that are not as far along as we are,” he said. Jeffers added that most machines for teachers are less than two years old, while student machines are mostly five to eight years old.

Still, he said, there are some areas that need upgrades.

“One area that needs work is our wireless infrastructure. Our high school has the most up-to-date system, while our buildings that house grades 5 to 9 need improvement. The structure there cannot handle the influx of personal devices that is the future of technology in schools. Our elementary buildings do not have building-wide wireless access at this time,” said Jeffers.

Lane added: “Eventually we’re going to have to have standardized testing all done through computers. Well, that means all our elementaries would need to have enough computers for our kids to take those tests. We don’t have enough. We don’t have one per student.”

She also said some of the tests won’t run on the computers they have, because those computers can’t run the software for the tests.

Just as the board is expected to form a plan to deal with its bus shortage this month, it will also eventually need to figure out a plan to deal with its technology shortage, said Billy Smith, the assistant superintendent for business. Jeffers said that plan will be presented in the late winter or early spring.

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