Lafayette

Apr 17, 2013 9:28 PM by Tina Macias

Lafayette schools' technology scrutinized

The Lafayette Parish School System lacks a strategy needed to keep up-to-date technology in the classroom, the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce's technology peer review team has found.

Although technology is central to superintendent Pat Cooper's turnaround plan, there's no strategy to implement it, there's little funding or support for technology and infrastructure needed for technology is an afterthought, peer review team co-chairman Doug Menefee told the board during a workshop today.

He told a story of a temporary building that was moved onto a school campus and fitted with everything except Internet connectivity.

"We would never open a classroom that didn't have light fixtures or electricity running through it," Menefee said. "Technology has to be embedded within everything in the school system to be successful."

Now, technology is fractured throughout the school system with a few proactive schools rich with assets, Menefee said.

The team recommended that the system strive for consistency; consider hiring a consultant; reestablish its Chief Information Officer; and create a technology steering committee to define a 5-year vision, set responsibilities for It leadership and participate in vendor selection processes.

The board likely will consider creating the steering committee at its next board meeting.
The team also recommended finding ongoing technology funding, perhaps donations from major corporations.

The system only spends 1.5 percent of its budget on technology, compared to the 4.8 percent national standard, Menefee said.

"In the last five years, we've underinvested in technology by $31 million," Menefee said.

This has been done despite teachers acknowledging that students are more engaged with technology and with a state mandate that will soon require students to take computerized tests. LPSS, like the majority of Louisiana districts, is not prepared for that requirement, Menefee said.

"I hate taking tests on computers because I don't get enough practice using them," one student told the committee during its research.

Another interviewee, a teacher, said: "When I moved here from another state, I felt like I had gone back 10 years in technology."

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