Following through on a 3-year-old promise, the school board has decided to spend about $100,000 of a $305,000 state windfall on new computers for the high school.
Like school districts across California, Moorpark Unified got the extra money this year because the state received more tax revenue than was expected. The money amounts to about $50 more per student this year.
The board voted Tuesday night to set aside $100,000 for the purchase of 60 Pentium computers and eight printers that will be used for business classes and computer-assisted drawing.
Although the board's decision to spend the money on computers was in line with a legislative directive to use the money for new technology, district officials said they took the action because they wanted to follow through on a program of their own.
In a budget-tightening move two years ago, the board had to abandon the district's short-lived technology program. When they made the decision, board members promised that if money became available, they would use it on computers and other new technology.
More importantly, board President Clint Harper said, was that Moorpark was doing what it could to catch up with school districts across the country that were spending much more per student on new technology.
"California is last in the nation in students' access to computers," he said.
The lack of money for new technology has meant that students at Moorpark High School have been left with computers that are woefully inadequate, Assistant Supt. Frank DePasquale said.
"Our two high school computer labs haven't been updated in seven years," he said. "That means our high school computers are less powerful than the computers we have in [elementary] schools."
For some students with powerful home computers, the lack of computers at school is not a problem. But for those who can't afford them, it becomes difficult to catch up with the new technology being used on the job and at colleges, DePasquale said.
The school board also heard suggestions on how to spend the additional $205,000, but postponed making a decision until its next meeting Jan. 23.
Most of the requests came from those who participated in extracurricular activities.
Sixth-grader Jacqueline Williams, 11, plays the French horn in her school's band. Apart from having to share the same beat-up horn with several other members, Jacqueline said the instrument didn't work well.
"It's got holes in it," she said, holding up the dented and dilapidated instrument.
The school board also heard from a choir teacher who said he needs several thousand dollars to replace 30-year-old music stands and stage sets, and from members of the booster club who said they need about $60,000 to complete the track at the high school's stadium.
"I don't think we heard from any undeserving cause," board member David Pollack said. "I wish we could fund them all, but we're going to have to make some tough choices."