Southborough Schools: Parents support 1:1 pilot and November 21 MCAS transition forum

At Wednesday’s School Committe meeting, Superintendent Dr. Charles Gobron reported on the results of Neary’s 1:1 Pilot survey. He told members that parents are overwhelmingly supportive of a pilot. He acknowledged that some parents are still opposed to the pilot.

Gobron didn’t state how many parents said they would opt in or out. He declined to offer any specifics at this time. Instead he said that the comments shared require thoughtful consideration.

Next week, the Technology Committee will meet to discuss survey results and next steps.

After the meeting, Gobron was interviewed by the Metrowest Daily News. You can read that article for more detail.

Earlier in the same meeting, Gobron announced that the Southborough Schools will be hosting a community forum to explain the state’s MCAS transition.

All Massachusetts public schools are required to adopt the Common Core curriculum framework. The Mass Department of Education is working on a plan to ensure future testing will be consistent with it.

To help parents understand what is happening with MCAS, the Superintendent’s office recently held a well-attended forum in Northborough. On November 21, 6:30 – 8:00 pm at Trottier Middle School,  they will address the Southborough community.

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Dad
8 years ago

Serious question. According to this document found on the district website, the K-8 grades should see a decrease in 5 class rooms for the 2014-15 school year.
http://www.nsboro.k12.ma.us/files/_lRGiG_/f7c0b026e8b59e2b3745a49013852ec4/HousingSchCommRpt2-5Final.pdf

However, the preliminary budget shown here does not show any decrease in teacher salaries for next year.
http://www.nsboro.k12.ma.us/files/_kSLAu_/3484bce9c23585923745a49013852ec4/Southborough_FY14_Preliminary_Budget_09_JAN_13.pdf

We are expected to lose another 4 the following year and lost 2(or more?) this past year. I would have thought that this would add up to some serious savings. What gives? By my estimates all this savings could buy an iPad for everyone in the district!

Also google appears to be pushing very hard in this space. In the long run, I’d bet going android would be the better decision.
http://developer.android.com/distribute/googleplay/edu/index.html

Finn schooler parent
8 years ago

My oldest child is currently at the Finn school, so he will not be involved in the 1:1 pilot this year. I have still been paying close attention to this story because, soon enough, he’ll be at Neary. Before I get to the heart of my comment, I’ll be open about my opinion. First off, I am generally supportive of using new technology in schools. I like the idea that our district is working to stay at the forefront of education and agree that there are exciting possibilities with the iPad. However, the cost burden is significant. While our family could afford a device for our child, I am sensitive to the reality that there are probably many families for which this is not true. I want this program to be serve ALL of our students without making a subgroup feel “other.” The dismissive language regarding the cost has been a real put-off. (E.g., $700 is not comparable to the savings from not buying a couple of notebooks…)

Here’s why I’m writing a comment: the survey was ill-thought out and clearly hastily prepared. I’m a professional scientist and it is my opinion that they will have a very difficult time getting usable information out of a completely open-ended survey (at least for the non 4th grade parents). There should have been several questions with a choice of responses so that specific issues could be measurably probed and easily reported back to the community. The survey could still have included an open-ended form to make sure that all issues could be aired! I would put a lot more faith in a report that stated specifically XX% of fourth grade parents would opt in with the plan as distributed, XX% of parents have concerns about the cost, XX% would apply for financial aid, XX% are concerned about screen time, XX% believe that an older age would be more appropriate, etc. I don’t feel like we’re getting the full story when Dr. Gobron says the pilot has “overwhelming support.” What does that mean?!?! Heck, my own opinion of the pilot is supportive but still concerned about the cost! How was my opinion counted? I would really like to see a report from the survey and exactly how they are determining that the pilot has this overwhelming support.

Fourth Grade Parent
8 years ago

Just to be clear, the 4th grade survey was just as poor thought out and had only one additional question.

Here it is:

“What option do you plan to choose for the iPad project?

__I/we plan to have my/our child use an iPad that we already have or purchase one on our own.
__I/we plan to acquire an iPad for my/our child from the school vendor.
__I/we plan to not acquire an iPad for my/our child, and he/she will use a school iPad during the school day.
__I/we have an income level lower than 150% of the level required to qualify for free or reduced lunch, and will be applying for assistance in order to participate in the program.

Other (please specify)”

___________________________________________

I have to say, I am completely shocked at the poor quality of the survey, and it brings to light the other poor planning around this project. Finn schooler parent is correct in the type of questions that should have been asked.

Furthermore, the DOE notified the superintendent about the legality of this program PRIOR to distributing the survey. He was notified that #1 the school would have to present the option of the school providing iPads for the kids to take home as the program is CURRENTLY being proposed and #2 that the school could not use the federal poverty guidelines for free/reduced lunches as a guideline for qualifying for financial assistance for the iPads.

I am completely disgusted at the unethical way this is all shaking out. They plan to tweak the verbiage to push this thing through instead of putting their heads together to come up with additional funding. This is not about how cool iPads are and the use of technology in the classroom. It is about everything else being discussed.

Supportive parent
8 years ago

The parents in opposition to this are attacking the school at every turn…and I’m concerned they don’t have the full information. Have you spoken to the school with these ideas including funding? Have you thought of doing your own fundraiser and spending you energy supporting the school rather than attacking them and accusing them of lying? These iPads are going to be in all the schools soon anyway and this town seems to be fighting the inevitable tooth and nail. It would be more helpful for parents to be working with the schools to come up with a better cost plan rather than disparaging them..

Concerned Parent
8 years ago

Supportive parent, you make a lot of assumptions about those opposed to this initiative. The parents I know who are opposed to this are very supportive of our schools and teachers. They are the first ones to offer significant amounts of their time and money in support their children’s classrooms and SOS initiatives.. They are room parents, chairpeople of SOS events and regular classroom volunteers. They respect and appreciate the teachers. They are not opposed to the use of technology in school. The cost of the iPads is not the only issue. If it was, I’m confident that these parents would mobilize and raise the funds. There are other important issues that we don’t feel have been addressed adequately up to this point and, frankly, the stakes are too high for us to disregard them. Please don’t villify those who don’t share your point of view.

Supportive parent
8 years ago

Concerned parent what are the other important issues that you feel haven’t been addressed? After reading the article in southborough villager it appears that the cost and level of responsibility of the 4 the graders were the two most prevalent concerns.

Concerned Parent
8 years ago

Finn schooler parent, I totally agree. I have a background in statistics. I took the “survey” for non-4th grade parents. It was useless and made me question the validity of the whole exercise. I’m also suspicious of this “overwhelming support” because I haven’t spoken to a single person who is in favor of the pilot as it has been described. I know those people are out there because some have weighed in on this blog. I’m having a very hard time believing that they’re in the majority, though. Once again, the lack of forethought and transparency has left a very bad taste in my mouth.

Neil Rossen
8 years ago

Watch out parents! Gobron is a bulldozer. Good luck in opposing him. The school committee always backs him to the hilt.

Sboro Mom
8 years ago

Finn Schooler parent, if there was a way for me to “like” your comment, I would have clicked on it. I share your sentiments.

Djd66
8 years ago

Finn School parent, I completely agree – the survey was a joke. I am not an expert in stats, but I can tell you the survey was useless. After I took the survey,… I thought really,… That’s how they are giving this survey??? My fourth grade daughter could have formulated a better survey. I love Neary + love the teachers but unless they can figure out a way to properly fund this, I say no.

John Butler
8 years ago

For those who write above that you would like verification of the survey, you could file a public records request with the school department for a copy of the surveys, the results, or their tabulations. Just make your request clear, in writing, and state that it is under the Public Records law. Under the law they would have 10 business days during which to either comply with the records request or formally cite one of the few exemptions under the law that they think would enable them not to comply. Off hand I can’t think of any exemption under the law that would allow the withholding of a copy of the surveys.

another 4th grade parent
8 years ago
Reply to  John Butler

I responded with extensive comments and with a 100% expectation of privacy, The school should not under any circumstances distribute the survey responses to anyone. Period.

Common core
8 years ago

Relevant and really worth the watch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PprP5TCZBRI

Parent
8 years ago
Reply to  Common core

Definitely well worth the watch

supportive parent
8 years ago

I am really surprised at the opposition to this program. As the DOE said this is going to be in all the schools in 5 years and people will be wondering what the fuss is about. It’s a matter of priorities. If you want your child to get excited about learning and be more motivated to learn, then this is the program for you. I’ve seen it with my own child when the Ipads were used last year. I’m surprised anyone would consider falling behind other schools in the area. Upton just implemented this program this year with no opposition! Why would you prioritize spending money on cars and trips over your child’s education?

Parent
8 years ago

“Why would you prioritize spending money on cars and trips over your child’s education?”

That is a pretty offensive, presumptive comment. Even in Southborough, there are many levels of income. You do know, I assume, that there are people who need to take advantage of the reduced lunch program, and get scholarships for events like the Stone Trip at Trottier. Not everyone who lives here owns a home, or owns an expensive one.

All of us, whatever the income, want the best for our children. Because many people have issues with how the I pad proposal has been handled doesn’t mean that they are not in favor of the schools keeping up to date and giving children the best learning options, perhaps through different types of technology.
Please don’t simplify.

Supportive parent
8 years ago
Reply to  Parent

“Parent” please let us know what other types of technology you would propose to keep the schools up to date?

Parent
8 years ago

“Supportive Parent”: Use your imagination.

parent of 4th grader
8 years ago

The screen time as a reason for moving away from this program is a smoke screen. How tough is it to distinguish between educational time and play time? I understand that you don’t want kids using this all day, but the school is very clear that it will only be used approximately 20 percent of the day. If parents are that concerned they should reduce screen time at home. This is a tool for the teachers to use to provide a better education!
Its hard to understand why parents wouldn’t be excited about this after hearing the level of excitement the teachers conveyed. Mrs. Lord, who presented at the last school meeting, talked about how they were able to accomplish 5 times the amount of science work using the Ipads in a 45 minute block! Who wouldn’t want that for their children?

Finn schooler parent
8 years ago

The two comments above exemplify what is not sitting well with me about the proposed pilot. Supportive parent and fourth grde parent, if you are responding to my first comment, you should note that I am excited about the possibilities with the iPads. I just want the school to take a careful, measured approach to make it happen so that all children have truly equal access to the devices. Not everyone takes lavish trips or has fancy cars. You made my point about the cost comments being condescending and off-putting.

Supportive parent
8 years ago

Finn schooler parent, I was responding to the fourth grade parent who was attacking the survey and making accusations of the school administration. This is not condescension, this is a parent making the decision to prioritize a child’s education. Your point would be better made attacking the issue,not the messenger.

Let’s let the teachers do their jobs as we’ve done to date. We haven’t micromanaged them up to now why do we need to do it now? I find it disrespectful and offensive for parents to attack the school and make accusations without even trying to work with them. It would be much more effective to work together and meet all of our concerns.

Frank Crowell
8 years ago

You mean the kind of respect Mr Rooney was accorded when he presented spending data from a near by town to the K-8 school committee and asked why there is such a spending difference.

Or the kind of respect TM got when Dr Gobron describe the teacher’s contract as a very small, less then 2% raise when in fact the total tally was much more.

This would be the same Dr Gobron telling us the new iPad program has “overwhelming” support.

Respect is a two way street.

Respectfully disagree...
8 years ago
Reply to  Frank Crowell

It’s interesting that you cite previous conflicts with the school district over money.

In this case, the school is asking parents who are directly involved to help fund this pilot project. I would gladly participate by providing an iPad for my child and would consider additional donations. Yes, I want the school to increase their use of technology and I’m willing to help fund such efforts. I understand that not all parents are able or willing to do so, I am willing to help as much as I can. I am very sympathetic with the goal of controlling costs and decreasing the burden on tax payers.

To those who say that the project should be stopped because the school should fund it: when the school budget is presented will you support this funding or will you fight against it? Are you going to try to tell us that the town shouldn’t have to pay for this when this comes up in a future school budget vote – after trying to stop a project that in fact minimizes the cost burden to the town and asks parents to participate?

I will be much more supportive of what the school district asks for going forward and I normally do not take that position. I have lost sympathy for those who complain about the tax rate when at the same time they oppose the school when they try to move forward in a way that burdens the town as little as possible. The main goal of some here appears to be to oppose anything the school district tries to do, based on past conflicts.

Yes respect is earned, and those in town government need to earn it as well as those involved with the school district. Are they trying to do what is best or just fighting old battles?

Parent of a 4th grader
8 years ago

Spot on.

Frank Crowell
8 years ago

Yes, all previous conflicts sited are about money. You might notice at the heart of this issue is money. The prior conflicts strike at least a parallel to the current controversy. This is not a shock since almost all the players are the same.

Is it too much to ask that instead of being a cheering leading squad our elected Education Committee could ask some hard questions about this or other spending issues? How about just plain making some hard choices?

How difficult could it be to find the money for iPads inside a $17 million dollar budget? Real hard if you have the opinion it’s a bare bones budget.

My mind could change if I see a change in the way business is done. That would require an open mind from the education establishment in town.

Al Hamilton
8 years ago

Lets not forget the disrespect showed to Mr. Butler, an Advisory Committee when he was stonewalled in his request for data that was clearly public property

Let’s not forget the disrespect shown to Town Meeting, Advisory, and The BOS in the annual ignoring of the Town By law that requires a budget to be submitted no later than Jan 30.

Lets not forget the disrespect shown to all residents and tax payers by the condescending “sharing” format that forbids attendees at a public meeting from commenting during the period when school committee member discuss important public policy matters.

I am old school, respect is not a two way street, it is earned.

Supportive parent
8 years ago

I don’t know anything about those issues but I do know we aren’t just talking about Charles Gobron here. We are talking about the principal and the teachers. No one, including Charles Gobron should be attacking and making accusations. We should be working together to come up with a plan that is satisfactory to everyone….which is what I’ve heard Charles Gobron say at the meetings and he was quoted as such in newspaper articles.

Fourth Grade Parent
8 years ago

Supportive parent, why do you assume parents have not tried to work with the school and the administrators? From what I gather, parents have done nothing but try to work with them. It is the opposite, in fact. The school is not prepared to work with the parents who oppose the current plan because they have their mind set on moving this forward for a January start date. Re: funding, it has been stated, “we are out of time” to look for additional funding. Why are we out of time? Who says we are out of time? Nobody is trying to “attack” the school and we have asked umpteen questions to get the full information. One gentleman summed it up at the October open forum discussion. He said, let me rephrase the same question with the hope of getting a different response. Why did he say that? Because, his question was still unanswered!

John Butler
8 years ago

I think it would be best to keep two aspects of this separate: the funding and the content of the plan. As for the content, how the iPads are used, I am sure it can be done well or poorly, but it is difficult to believe from the current vantage that no such program should ever be created.

The funding issue is what concerns me. The use of these devices is for the heart of the educational mission, teaching math, science and reading, not about about any service that, although it may be important, is not so situated, such as sports participation or learning a musical instrument. It would be easy to allow parents who can afford these devices, to bully into silence those who have financial concerns, as it always would have been through the whole history of public education funding. One can hear that bullying tone already.

Since it seems popular for this topic to in this to introduce oneself as “a fourth grade parent”, or whatever, I will introduce myself as a grandparent with no children in the system, a grandparent who would oppose any erosion of the core values of free public education. I also have tracked closely the budgetary process for many years here, and can say that the Town not only has never turned down, at any stage of the budgetary process, a request for technology funding by the schools but for many years isolated those funds so that money was required to be spent on technology. There is no justification for any assertion that the Town and the Schools cannot afford this in the budget, and it is slur on the decades of broad public support here to suggest that the Town would not support a well-considered program.

I believe that this program should not attempt to narrowly comply with the rules for equal access put forward by the State, the path it seems to be on, but instead should adopt the spirit of those rules fully, ensuring no erosion of the principle of public funding for core education.

Parent
8 years ago
Reply to  John Butler

Very well put.

4th grade parent
8 years ago
Reply to  John Butler

I hope that you are right and that the town will support the additional funding that will be required for such programs.

It’s not unusual for schools to suggest a project that asks for some parent funding, many school districts are doing so all over the country. Technology is needed more than ever for our kids to be able to compete in an extremely tough environment and funding through tax revenue can be difficult to obtain.

Accusing the superintendent/school committee of making a ‘slur’ against the town when they say that they do not have the funding is over the top. Have you not been hounding them over their budget for decades? Maybe they’ve heard you and others in the town loud and clear. Instead of accusing them of a making a slur, maybe you should instead offer to provide assistance in getting the school the funding they need!

I don’t believe that anyone is trying to erode the ‘principle of public funding for core education’, it seems to me that they are trying to get to where they need to be by asking parents to assist in a pilot project. The key point is that this project ‘asks’ for parent support, no one can or should demand that parents do so. Many people will decide to not provide assistance for various reasons, all very understandable ones.

John Butler
8 years ago

All the evidence suggests that, if the program is well conceived, the Town will support funding the schools at a level that will let them implement it. The Town’s record on this is so good that I think it is wrong to imply anything else. During the last fiscal year for which there are reported expenditures, the K8 system spent 269,000 tax dollars on “classroom instructional technology”. There was no parent funded pilot that preceded that expenditure. In the context of a $17 million annual budget and $270,000 spent on classroom technology, how can a $100,000 program be so hard to fund?

The fact that districts, “all over the country” are seeking parent funding does not mean that here in Massachusetts, which has “equal access” regulations, and here in Southborough, we should ape them. If other parts of the country begin to back off from public funding of core education, I believe it will be a huge mistake.

“Have I not been hounding them over their budget”. Never, ever. For decades I have been a strong, consistent and public supporter of the school budget, as anyone who has watched closely will tell you. I have opposed the school committee’s meeting policies and, at times past, their information disclosure practices, but I’ve worked hard to support the budget. I have written here that my children enjoyed an advantageous pupil teacher ratio when they were in school in Southborough and we have a responsibility to maintain such high standards.

No one ever “tries to” erode the principle of public education, but that is what can happen if we allow it. In this case the school says that there is a large educational benefit to having the ipad go home with the child, but the draft plan has that happening only for those who buy their own. The State says that that draft plan is not permissible. I agree with the State regulations. I am troubled by some children on the bus having iPads to take home, while other 4th graders are have nots. I think we should embrace the principle that the regulations would urge upon us, because they are the right principles, not try to craft a plan that narrowly complies with the rules but leaves some 4th grade parents and children feeling hurt and left out.

Parent
8 years ago
Reply to  John Butler

I appreciate your well thought out, compassionate and eloquent comments.

Not Opposed Need More Information
8 years ago
Reply to  John Butler

I am a parent of a 4th grader, have attended all but one of the meetings and read the materials provided. I have never heard that parents don’t want what’s best for their kids or see their productivity rate increase. Most parents simply want more information. For example:
1. A project timeline for the pilot program, one with measureable goals and objects
2. A long and short term plan
3. An example of what a child who spends 25-33% of their day with an iPad in hand will look like
These requests, along with a number of others, have been made to the principal at Neary and the superintendent’s office. These requests remain unanswered, or received a, “we are still working on it“ response.

In addition to a basic plan not being provided, there is the issue of funding. It has been put forth by the school that if we chose to purchase an iPad, they would recommend using their preferred provider. From a business sense, I understand they want to give the business to a local provider, however I question why we are not going thru Apple directly. They offer educational discounts. http://store.apple.com/us/browse/campaigns/education_pricing?afid=p219%7CGOUS&cid=AOS-US-KWG
Given the “overwhelming support of the program” based on what they are masking as a “survey” I would think we could negotiate a volume discount with Apple.

I also asked about fund raising and if SOS could help offset the costs of the program. I was told that SOS wasn’t in a space to help with something this big—yet it’s not too big to ask of parents?

Dad
8 years ago

I felt the same way as you at first, but I now think you are making too much of this. The point of this being a pilot is that they don’t have these answers and implementing a pilot is how you get them. Second, the kids are already using the iPads daily, so you are making this out to be something bigger than it is. Third, the answers are mostly subjective, there just isn’t any way to measure success in the short run.

The goal and plan really is to simply continue what they are already doing with the iPads they have now, but to just do more and without interruption. The long term plan is to simply move forward with the technology as it progresses. I thought that in the meeting they described a day in the life good enough. In doesn’t take much imagination to envision the reality. As this is a PILOT, if your worst fears are realized then I would expect this to come out in the review of the program.

Your problem is paying for the iPad given it’s PILOT status, but a PILOT is what this is, so I wouldn’t hold your breath for any real answers. You either see the value in having the iPads in the classroom and think that value is worth the cost or you don’t, I don’t think anyone is going to be able to prove the value to you.

You also may choose to believe that if the administrators/school board see the value in the program then it is up to them to find room in the budget for this. What are the trade offs, if this isn’t as important as every one of those other 17 million dollars spent, then this can’t be that important. They have a budget and their job is to maximize it.

Kate
8 years ago
Reply to  Dad

My thought regarding a pilot study would be that it might be useful to include a smaller sample of students, and results (academic gains/losses) could be measured against students not included. This would be cost effective, and give plenty of data. It would also be a less expensive venture, so hopefully the district could cover the cost.

Southville
8 years ago
Reply to  Dad

I agree completely with this. I’m still very confused as to why some people are so upset about this program. It’s a pilot program, for one year, for one grade. Why not let the school try it out, see how it goes for one year? If it’s bound to fail, as some of you seem to think, then it will, and we’ll cancel the program having learned some useful information.

For what it’s worth, I’m a supporter of the program, and think it will likely come out well. But I’m willing to reserve judgement, and let the pilot program run, and then would be open to any changes that are needed (up to complete cancellation) depending on what we find out.

Parent
8 years ago
Reply to  Southville

I think the issue many people are having is that the pilot may require every one to buy an Ipad. If it didn’t, that would be different. Some people can’t afford this.

Perhaps I’m misinformed about that..Am a Trottier parent and not quite so involved in all of this.

Not Opposed Need More Information
8 years ago
Reply to  Dad

Dad
Thank you for your response to my post. I do need to correct you– my problem is not paying for the iPad Pilot program. If you review my prior post, I have suggested ways to fund it. Its not about the money, its about a clear cut, concise plan, which I have yet to read or hear from the school.
As you pointed out there are already kids using the iPads daily, why couldn’t we consider this the PILOT? Use the data and information that they are gathering, analyze it, modify/change then do a complete roll out based on this starting in September 2014?
My understanding of a Pilot program is a small sampling of a demographic. We have 170 4th graders we are asking to take part in the Pilot, seems quite a large sampling–
I believe that technology in a classroom can do amazing things and our children can greatly benefit from its use. I do not believe the plan in its current form is detailed enough and requires more thought and planning.

Supportive parent
8 years ago

Fourth grade parent please elaborate on what you have done to work with the school.

Also when was it said that time has run out? Charles Gobron stated in last Friday’s front page article in the southborough villager :” they are continue to digest the comments that they received and consider fine tuning the plan”. They are still taking time and I’m sure would welcome any ideas. How do you know whether or not they are looking at funding options?

As to you comment about January deadline Charles Gobron also said that the plan is in “flux”. That doesn’t sound like someone who is just pushing this through for a definite January start date.

John Butler
8 years ago

Parents and other citizen who like the idea of the program, but believe it should have public funding, can take a very easy step to make that happen. A mere ten signatures on a warrant petition to appropriate the money for the program will put the matter before Town Meeting voters at April Town Meeting. Supporters of this idea should do it promptly, because sometime in December the warrant will close and it would become too late. If between now and April the School Committee comes around to supporting public funding within their regular budget, the warrant can always be withdrawn on the floor. (If someone wants help on the mechanics of such a warrant petition, contact me.)

Such petitions generally have a salutary effect. They remind elected officials that they serve a vibrant democracy and force them to address, in our largest most potent forum, the questions of public concern.

another parent
8 years ago

I approached the school committee and asked what we parents could do to raise the money? Could we have fund raisers, could they look to re-allocate areas of the budget along with parents having fund raisers? How can we come together to work on this so that everyone can have access to an iPad? I was told “we are out of time”. I was told that at the school committee meeting.

Neil Rossen
8 years ago

As I suspected, high minded ideals will suddenly morph into milking taxpayers for money – again. Is there just no shame or are we simply taking a cue from the administration? Why don’t those who really want something just pay for it themselves. What happened to rugged individualism, or are we back to the “you didn’t build it” or “we’re all into this together” mantras that we’ve heard too often recently. A recipe for resentment and failure. Which is what is going on in the country right now. If you can pay the property taxes, you can buy an iPad for yourself and your family. OK?

Parent
8 years ago
Reply to  Neil Rossen

My belief, possibly incorrect, is that the school, if they do go forward with the Ipads can afford to fund the Ipads without raising taxes.

But, it is unfortunate that they are not considering alternatives, such as laptops, which are much cheaper. Why the Ipad? And, as John Butler said, just because other school systems may be asking parents to fund a program such as this, does not mean we should ape them. Also, if the school thinks &9.oo off an Ipad from Apple is such a deal, they need to look into alternate ways to get Ipads (I know that an alternative has recently been suggested to the Neary school).

Neil: As I said to “Supportive Parent”, not everyone who lives in Southborough owns, or if they own, they still need to be careful with their finances. Some people may live at the Red Roof Inn. Everyone should have equal access. I don’t hold with “rugged individualism” to the exclusion of fairness and equal access. We are all in it together, on a town scale, and on a national scale.

Neil Rossen
8 years ago
Reply to  Parent

Those at the Red Roof Inn likely are being state supported. I know. Equal access. to private education, to European trips, to what? Lets means test those in need. We should be “in it” as much as we wish and not be forced into it like socialized medicine, And all need to be careful of OTHER people’s finances.

Parent
8 years ago
Reply to  Neil Rossen

I’m sympathetic with those on fixed incomes paying property taxes that are difficult to afford. I think we need to fix our tax system so that those who can pay more property taxes, do. The rest of what you said just doesn’t make sense.

Parent
8 years ago
Reply to  Parent

And I’m referring to homeowners, such as yourself, on fixed incomes.

Fourth Grade Parent
8 years ago

Survey Results:

“Approximately 77% of 4th grade parents responded to the survey;

Of those responding to the survey, around 75% supported and intended to participate in the project;

Of the 4th grade respondents:
46% had only positive comments about the project;
26% were positive but had some concerns
20% made comments opposing the project;
7% had no comments

There were also many comments from parents with students in other grades. For example, there were 51 comments from 3rd grade parents, which would be approximately 39% of the class if you assume that each comment was from a different student’s parent. Of the 3rd grade parent comments, 68% were positive (some with some concerns) and 33% made comments opposing the project.”

Kate
8 years ago

Interesting. So 46% were completely supportive, and 46% voiced concerns. I wouldn’t really call that overwhelming support by the current 4th grade. Hopefully the results (actual numbers of respondents, etc., will be released). Sounds like there’s a report?

Fourth Grade Parent
8 years ago

This information was distributed today in a One Call message from Mrs. Murdock.

This whole thing just doesn’t sit right with me. Feels like we are living in a foreign country where things are dictated to us. And, let’s face it, we all know this is not a “pilot” but a roll-out! And please don’t forget, we are talking about 9-year-olds!!! Why do people think they won’t be competitive with having a handle on the latest technology? Sure, they will. They are already using them in school. That’s plenty of exposure. We are talking as if they are interviewing for jobs in September! And, why is there not more of a discussion about why this is not happening at Trottier instead?

Couldn’t agree more with “Question” below, although I still believe the extensive use of the iPad would be in question, but it is the money part that got everyone’s attention. There are many reasons for the opposition. Where are all of these intelligent voices during these meetings? Thank you to John Butler for continuing to provide us with information we do not know. You need to run for office!

Respectfully disagree...
8 years ago

I think the point is not to gain exposure to the iPad itself, but to use it as a tool to teach the regular curriculum. Instead of having them for specific periods of time during the day when they can sign them out, they will have this tool at their disposal and the teachers can make better use of it as a tool. The point of the Pilot is to see if that makes a big difference and to fine tune how it’s used, what works well and what does not. The goal is not to train them to use iPads, but to help them learn with what they believe is a powerful tool. I trust the teachers to tell us what really works and what they have learned from this Pilot.

Why take money from the school or the town to buy iPads for those who are willing to buy them or already have them? First have the parents who are willing to provide one do so and then see how many the school really needs to come up with. Whatever money is available (through current budget or new warrant) should be used as efficiently as possible. Put that money to work at Trottier so they can benefit too, maybe next year. Buying iPads for parents ready to supply them and who probably already have them is just not a good use of money. Town residents should not be forced to fork over money to supply my child with a device when I am willing to do so. If I’m wrong and there’s plenty of money available then that’s great, fund it all entirely. It seems wasteful to me to not try to use the resources that some parents are willing to supply.

Some say that the school should just find the money for this in their current budget -but they can more easily do that if the number of devices is first minimized. Why have them cut anything when they could use devices that may already be available thru parents? Those who really disagree with the project should choose to have a device provided for them by the school. If enough have chosen that option the school may have to make a tough decision to be able to move forward. First let the parents who support this do their part to help. Don’t demand that the school has to make tough decisions and cut something in order to fund everyone, when that is really not necessary.

Dad
8 years ago

I agree with you on the point of the iPad. I hope everyone gets this by now. I also find it wonderful that you are so nice as to be so willing to spend your hard earned money so generously for the sake of the town. Call me jaded, but most people I’ve ever met don’t seem so nice. I would expect even more opposition under your plan. People like fairness no matter the circumstance.

Question
8 years ago

Can I be the materialistic weasel here? If this program was to launch, and it was funded by the school do we really think that there would be much – if any – opposition to the plan??

Do I think an iPad will help the kids learn – sure. But the bottom line is that this is a public school DEMANDING private funds. You can compare it to all the extracurricular activities you want (i.e. violin, sports, etc.), but it simply isn’t the same. You can chose to have your child not participate in those activities and they will still get an equal opportunity education; however, since the iPad is going to be a main part of the curriculum, not having full-time iPad access will hamper a student’s ability at an equal education compared to the rest of the class. Personally I think giving a nine year old a $700 piece of equipment to take back and forth to school is plain foolish – if I thought my child could handle it I would have already given her one. I believe that they will probably get damaged or lost which will at a minimum will cause headaches for the parents (finding time to get it fixed since the school will be pushing this responsibility off as well) and probably some financial burden for repairs or replacement although this is claimed to not be the case. Another financial question is whether or not this is the only iPad that will have to be bought? In a year-and-a-half the recommended/required iPad has already been changed – how many will I have to buy between the 4th grade and the 12 grade graduation in order to give my child the best technological advantage/requirement? And if this is truly a pilot and it is decided to not proceed – will someone be reimbursing me my $700 that I didn’t want to spend in the first place?

Forget all of the other issues surrounding the program – solve the financial one and the rest will probably go away. The school committee could have made the hard decision by cutting funding to multiple other areas to make up the needed 0.58% ($100,000) of the $17M budget, but thought it would be easier to simply push it out to the parents, I guess they didn’t expect any opposition. I believe that proper budget planning and a slight increase from the town budget (which based on what I have read here is not impossible) would have resolved the issue, but it probably could have been done with either factor on its own.

Jessica
8 years ago

@Question says: “But the bottom line is that this is a public school DEMANDING private funds. You can compare it to all the extracurricular activities you want (i.e. violin, sports, etc.), but it simply isn’t the same. You can chose to have your child not participate in those activities and they will still get an equal opportunity education; however, since the iPad is going to be a main part of the curriculum, not having full-time iPad access will hamper a student’s ability at an equal education compared to the rest of the class.”

That is EXACTLY my concern. And I remember reading somewhere that other towns have sued over this.

For the *pilot program*, I think it’s fine to give people the *option* to participate in it. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. The school should have a control group of students without iPads and compare to the students with iPads (and both groups should be an equal mix of learning styles/abilities/needs), and then evaluate the learning differences when the pilot is over.

But if this becomes a school program in 2014-2015, I firmly believe the school must provide the iPads to all. End of story.

Parent
8 years ago
Reply to  Jessica

I agree.

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