Measure S brings tech wave across Glendale Unified

Nearly one year after Glendale voters approved a $270-million technology-focused school bond, they can now see evidence of the investment in classrooms.

On Monday, Glendale Unified kicked off a second consecutive week of technology training for its teachers, handing out dozens of new Mac laptops during a professional development session that officials say will directly impact classroom instruction.

“It is a tool, and if we don’t know how to use a tool effectively, it doesn’t do us any good,” Deputy Supt. John Garcia said of the training session.

This year, the district purchased 300 laptops for teacher use with Measure S dollars, officials said. An additional 600 computers will be in Glendale Unified classrooms by the end of the 2012-13 school year. In total, the district expects to invest $1.75 million in computers during the next three years.

And earlier this month, the Glendale Unified school board approved technology allocations to each individual school site that breaks down to $50 per student, or a total of $1.3 million, officials said.

The laptops are among the first big-ticket items funded by Measure S, a school bond passed by local voters in April 2011. Others include a $24-million overhaul of College View School, approved by the school board on March 6.

The distribution of technology resources is being prioritized based on need, with the schools with the most outdated equipment at the top of the list for replacements.

Teachers participating in the first wave of laptop disbursements self selected, agreeing to attend technology-focused professional development sessions in exchange for the hardware, Garcia said.

During a day-long training Monday at the Pacific Avenue Education Center, members of the district’s information technology department guided three dozen teachers through the set-up and basic functions of their new MacBook Pro laptops. They also reviewed security protocols, data-tracking software and online teacher resources.

Stephanie Boulware, a fifth-grade teacher at Monte Vista Elementary School, said her colleagues and parents on her campus have made technology education a priority. Students are already tasked with creating projects using programs such as Keynote and GarageBand, as well as writing and producing their own podcasts.

Still, she was working on a five-year old machine, which in computer speak is “ancient,” she said.

“I am just looking for ways to enhance the kids’ education, to be able to quickly find a video that I want and make things on the computer that the kids can say, ‘Oh, I can do that too,’” Boulware said.

Other teachers said the new equipment and training will introduce them to a wide range of new resources.

“It is just exciting to know that there is a lot more technology out there that you can use to make lessons plans much more interesting for the kids,” said Cindy Kim, who teaches sixth grade at Monte Vista.

Equally exciting is being able to impart her new computer skills to her students, Kim added.

“It has turned into such a technology-based world,” Kim said. “Something small, like researching — if kids don’t know how to do that, it is really hard to get through everyday life.”

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