Madison Board of Education Discusses Technology Improvements and "Wish List"

John La Pierre speaks to the crowd about his plans for the future.

MADISON, NJ - During the Madison Board of Education meeting at Madison High School held on Tuesday night, John La Pierre, Coordinator of Technology at the High School, gave a presentation regarding the technology progress made in the district and what is expected for the years to come.

The Madison public schools have made teaching students about technology and implementing technology in the classroom a top priority.  Several new tools have been utilized, which have been mostly funded out of the operating budget and by the recent referendum. The new tools include increasing the internet speed used by students to 50 mbps.  Madison High School library computers have also been replaced. The email servers and the MJS file server have also been replaced.  A new LCD digital sign was installed in the Madison High School lobby. A VOIP phone system has been implemented.  All main numbers have been ported over to the new voice enabled system. Phones have been installed in all classrooms.

Several teachers in the schools have been appointed as Tech Rangers. Tech Rangers specialize in a specific area of technology and help to teach their colleagues what they know. "Many teachers have stepped forward and said 'I'm good at this or I'm good at that,'" explained La Pierre. "This is a great program and everyone has fun with it. We even have badges!"

A planning profile has been developed by a 25 person team to discuss the direction of technology in the district. A three year state tech plan is due to the State by June 30th. Committees comprised of 9 people each are formed to go over tech ideas and tweak them when needed. The committees then get the Board's approval and then the County's approval for their ideas before being presented to the State.

Budget constraints are necessitating a bare bones approach regarding the operating budget. The technology wish list for 2010-2011 consists of getting 25 new desktops for Madison High School; 25 desktops for the TJS (Tory J School) Lab; and all elementary services consolidated and replaced by one server. Stimulus money received will hopefully help to purchase and install three new laptops for all 3rd and 5th grade classrooms. The district also hopes to use stimulus money to purchase new software programs such as Fast Math, Solo and Kurzwiel. Larger wish list items include backup systems ($32,000.00);Smart Boards for the remaining 1/3 of classrooms ($69,000.00) ; Teacher/Student Laptops ($159,750.00); and Power School with a Server ($43,500.00).

Where is all of the money coming from to fund these projects for the future? La Pierre and his team have thought of all possibilities. "Revenue from the sale of GVR [Green Village Road School Building] could be used to fund technology initiatives. The Madison High School Education Foundation may put in money," said La Pierre. "There had been a great planning meeting in January to discuss this with parents, district staff and the Education Foundation. Year two of the State Stimulus money could also be used to fund technology initiatives, but we will not find that out until we know the outcome in March."

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