The Beatrice Public School district is looking at a roughly $168,000 technology budget, a 47% decrease from the previous budget. The decrease is in part due to the Nebraska legislature eliminating a one cent technology bond, which generated about $120,000 for the district.
On Tuesday night, the board of education discussed ways to maintain and sustain the level of technology they currently have. Namely, replacing projectors and student and teacher computers that are reaching their life expectancy.
Superintendent Jason Alexander said options the district has looked into include lease purchasing computers, business sponsorships, community donations, receiving grants, moving funds from textbook purchases, extending technology’s replacement cycle, creating a technology booster club, partnering with the Educational Service Unit 5, selling students used computers at a discount and creating a technology fee similar to the student activity fee.
The board agreed that the district will need to implement several of these options, but Doris Martin, Janet Byars and Board Chairman Jon Zimmerman voiced their disapproval of a technology fee.
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“We want kids to graduate and be able to live and work with technology,” Martin said. “It seems wrong. That’d be like charging for a textbook. I think the bad feeling that would generate would not be worth it.”
The board also agreed that these options do not provide a consistent revenue, which makes constructing a budget difficult.
“It’s a disservice to our students, and it’s a disservice to our staff…We have to talk about the need, and we have to take a look at every possible angle we can at solving the problem that necessarily isn’t something we created,” Alexander said.
Alexander noted that District 30 Sen. Myron Dorn attended the last board of education meeting, when the technology options were first discussed.
Alexander said that the board could work with the senators to potentially develop state legislation to reinstate the technology levy for school districts.
The board agreed to look into further options and discuss the technology budget at a later meeting.