Archive for Thursday, February 13, 2003

More school funding cuts unlikely

February 13, 2003

The USD 491 Board of Education heard some good news when it met again to prioritize the district's services in the event of further budget cuts. Superintendent Marty Kobza said budget cuts this year looked to be unnecessary. But, Kobza said, it was likely the state wouldn't supply any new funding for the next budget year.

Regardless of whether the district will have to slim down this year, Kobza has emphasized the value of going through the prioritization exercise, as it could come in handy in the future.

For the time being, however, the Board's discussion centered around the need to spare the increasingly important educational tool of technology.

Kobza recommended leaving technology alone, especially because once the new high school was equipped the cost would decrease significantly. Preliminary estimates, he said, showed it would cost the district about $190,000 after shifting some computers already in use in the district to the new high school.

He also said it was important to keep technology classes equipped, because they will come in handy when the state's three units of science requirements kicked in. If the district couldn't offer "tech science" courses for non-college bound students, Kobza said they'd be faced with passing chemistry or physics.

Although technology grants for schools are abundant, many of them came with socio-economic requirements Eudora couldn't meet, Kobza said.

In addition to computers, the district's phones need upgrading, which Kobza said could come at a cost of $40,000. A district-wide upgrade would mean intra-district calls could go through fiberoptic lines, meaning such calls wouldn't tie up outside analog lines.

The Board discussed the merits of both leasing and purchasing technology equipment. Board member Carlie Abel said he thought it seemed as though the district was spending a lot of money on technology, but fellow Board member Kenny Massey said such expenditures were justified.

"Once you get behind on technology, you don't catch up," Massey said.

The technology issue extended into discussion of the district's libraries, which Board members said they were concerned had too few books. Kobza said the Internet was changing -- but not diminishing -- the importance of school libraries. Technology-savvy libraries can improve students' access to research materials, he said, by allowing them instant access via the Internet rather than waiting several weeks for inter-library loan books to arrive.

Kobza told the Board about a reading program, which he planned to present at upcoming meetings, that has students using computers as a tool for, not in lieu of, reading books.

"Hopefully we never get people away from reading books," he said.

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