by Howard Blume LA Times/LA Now | http://lat.ms/TIJAaJ
Photo: L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy, shown in September, is pushing to provide tablet computers for all students. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times
November 14, 2012 | 3:24 pm :: The group that oversees school-construction bond spending fell short of approving money to buy tablet computers for students in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The appointed Bond Oversight Committee voted 7 to 3 for the plan Wednesday, but that was one vote shy of the eight needed according to committee bylaws, officials said.
Committee actions are not binding on the elected Board of Education or on L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy, but its spending preferences are rarely overruled. The committee, in fact, almost always authorizes plans put forward by L.A. Unified. The oversight committee was established as part of the issuance of voter-approved school bonds.
Deasy, who is pushing to provide tablet computers for all students, said he would delay bringing his plan to the Board of Education for final approval.
The oversight committee "rejected the first step in a project to provide all LAUSD students with the technology to succeed in the classroom and workplace of the 21st century,” said Deasy. “The committee’s action is a setback to our efforts to make LAUSD K-12 students competitive with the best school districts in the country.”
Deasy had sought agreement on spending $17.4-million to fund a demonstration project at 14 secondary schools. The entire proposal is estimated to cost about $450 million for equipment and additional funding to set up wireless Internet access at schools.
LAUSD District News | http://bit.ly/RVbIZE
Deasy Very Disappointed in BOC for Rejecting Plan to Provide Electronic Devices to All LAUSD Students
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy expressed profound disappointment that the Bond Oversight Committee today fell short of supporting his plan to provide electronic devices to support Common Core State Standards for all LAUSD students.
According to BOC bylaws, eight votes were required to support an allocation of $17.4-million in bond money to fund a demonstration project at 14 secondary schools across the District, the so-called Phase 1. The final vote was 7-3.
“Today, the BOC rejected the first step in a project to provide all LAUSD students with the technology to succeed in the classroom and workplace of the 21st century,” said Deasy. “The Committee’s action is a setback to our efforts to make LAUSD K-12 students competitive with the best school districts in the country.”
As a result of the BOC decision, Deasy said he will not be taking his plan to the Board of Education for a vote next month.
Contact: Tom Waldman (213) 241-6766
by Hillel Aron to LA School Report | http://bit.ly/TIFKOS
Posted on November 14, 2012 :: Today, members from the Bond Oversight Committee blocked Phase I of Superintendent John Deasy’s plan to provide tablet computers for all students and faculty by the end of 2013.
The first phase of Deasy’s plan called for spending $17.4 million on tablets for 14 secondary schools. The Bond Oversight Committee voted 7-3 to approve the plan, but it needed eight votes to pass. The committee’s action was an “advisory vote,” and the proposal can still be brought to the full school board next month, although Deasy will not do so.
“The Committee’s action is a setback to our efforts to make LAUSD K-12 students competitive with the best school districts in the country,” said a disappointed Deasy, in a press release (read it here).
Update: Four of the committee members were absent from the vote. If just one of them had voted for it, it would have passed. According to Tom Rubin, a consultant for the committee, the money would have been borrowed from a pool of funds earmarked to build an early education center. That project is currently on hold. Rubin said the committee members voting no didn’t like the idea of taking money away from that project.
That said I am on the Bond Oversight Committee; I was there. We had a thorough discussion. The meeting was not fully attended – four BOC members were absent, any one of whom had they attended and voted in the affirmative would’ve been the decisive vote.
The conversation was deep and through. The superintendent’s argument was well made. BOC chair Steve English argued convincingly that portable wireless computing platforms are educational infrastructure in the 21st century.
The proposal was to do a pilot and I believe the pilot should be tried. If not now, when?
That the initial pilot program cost of $17.4 million is to be borrowed from funds earmarked for Early Childhood Ed facilities construction (NOT operation) is worrisome – but all presenters assured the BOC that that loan would be repaid ASAP from future bond sales and/or state funds owed the program.
The reporting in the articles abaove that the devices to be purchased are to be tablets oversimplifies the program – almost certainly the devices would be a mixture of portable devices, including tablets and laptop computing platforms.
“The entire proposal is estimated to cost about $450 million for equipment and additional funding to set up wireless Internet access at schools” grossly underestimates the total cost. Part of the pilot program would be identify the full cost – but it is pretty well established that the total program cost would be closer to a billion dollars than half a billion – not counting debt service.
Other outstanding and as-yet-unanswered questions concern:
- how vendors can guarantee a ten year lifecycle of small computing devices in daily use by 600,000 young people?
- how the labor cost of technological maintenance over time at school sites - which must be paid from the general fund – will be paid?
- and the effect on the school facilities brick-and-mortar/building-improvement-and-modernization program of reducing the Measure Q bond investment of $6 billion by $1 billion?
- “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking real money.” - Attributed to Sen .Everett Dirksen