Technology: A cornerstone of effective teaching and learning
Serving district students.
Orono Schools’ core technology infrastructure is the platform on which the district operates on so many levels, much like your own home or workplace: devices and software tools; network and wireless systems, cybersecurity protections, building security, communications, student records and business management. These systems form the foundational platform on which the district serves its students. The purposeful use of technology helps teachers engage students, foster 21st Century skills, and secure Orono students’ leading edge academically and in STEM-based knowledge and achievement.* Technology infrastructure must remain current and reliable to ensure effective, 21st Century teaching and learning opportunities and a stable business-operation environment.
*Orono High School was recently named by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top STEM High Schools in the United States, ranking #177 nationally.
The flexibility to support Distance Learning.
Unlike any other time in its history, the district has had to rely on technology infrastructure and educational tools to provide a consistent teaching and learning environment away from buildings and classrooms, called “distance learning.” The flexibility to support students through distance learning is essential—whether to provide academic support when a single child is ill at home or when the entire district is required to adopt a full or partial distance learning model.
Technology is funded through voter-approved levy
How technology is funded.
In Orono Schools, technology is funded through a voter-approved levy first passed in 2002 and renewed in 2011. This funding is set to expire in 2021. It’s important to note that Minnesota does not provide school districts with categorical aid for technology; districts must rely on technology levies for these essential dollars.
As you may recall, the technology referendum in November 2019 did not pass (1,399 voted no and 1,114 voted yes). Following this defeat, School Board members, district administrators, staff and finance committee members re-evaluated the district’s core technology needs for the next 10 years. They focused on critical infrastructure, equipment and essential teaching and learning tools. The School Board proposed a decrease in the levy request for the fall 2020 referendum from 5.023% to 4.516% times the net tax capacity of the school district.
Ten-year replacement and maintenance plan
Technology infrastructure and equipment must be continually maintained or replaced** as it moves toward obsolete status. Industry research shows that time to obsolescence is occurring faster, demanding a more frequent maintenance or replacement schedule to stay current.
Based on the revised levy request, voter-approved technology funding will support four areas:
Systems & software (exterior security, transportation, Orono PLUS, and “Software as a Service” digital subscriptions like Schoology, Seesaw, TurnItIn, Brainpop, etc.)
Infrastructure (basic facilities, services and installations, including WiFi, servers, cabling, firewall, access points, VOIP phone systems, cybersecurity and anti-virus tools)
Equipment (technology assets, including student, staff and classroom devices and displays)
Support staff (coordinator plus specially trained network and systems support administrators, technology support specialists, and instructional coaches who help teachers optimize educational technology)
**Information Technology (IT) best practices recommend a regular cycle of device replacement every five to seven years to remain stable and reliable and stay ahead of obsolescence. These devices include servers, computers, tablets, access points, switches, etc.
The remaining levy dollars will be held in emergency reserve (budget = $50,000 per year).