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Margaret Raymond Driscoll is a nine-year Melrose School Committee member who is passionate about excellent teaching and learning for all public school students, and considers it a privilege to collaborate with others who share that passion. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MargaretDrisc. Just to be clear - opinions expressed here do not represent those of the Melrose Public Schools, the Melrose School Committee, or the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials - they are hers alone.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Technology at the Secondary Level

The second part of last night’s joint MVMMS/MHS PTO meeting provided Melrose Chief Information Officer Jorge Pazos the opportunity to talk with parents about technology in the middle and high schools. He spoke to the need for 21st century schools based in technology driven instruction and the fact that Melrose schools currently employ aging technology; in fact, the newest building-wide hardware is in MVMMS and that is seven years old. (He recognized that Chromebooks can be found in pockets of the district, but considers them pilot programs since they aren’t available district-wide.) He contends that Melrose has a “chicken and egg” situation in that we need 21st century technologies but don’t have a secure foundation on which to build it, but how do we know what foundation to build if we don’t know what technologies will be needed? To break this cycle, Mr. Pazos suggests that we need to employ a simultaneous bundle of quality equipment, training, and management of technological services.

Addressing this challenge will begin with a technology plan. The city has contracted with consultants who have completed substantial data collection and much evaluation of that data. They are now working on preparing an action plan (answering the question noted above: what is needed to drive instruction?) and expect to present it in early April. While the Melrose Public Schools can now only budget $40K/year on hardware for the schools, Mr. Pazos expects the technology plan to recommend spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $300K/year to update the technology and get on an appropriate replacement cycle. (Ideally, computers have a three-year life but he acknowledged that four to five years is more realistic. Chromebooks come with a recommended life so owners can plan better for replacements.)

Mr. Pazos is heartened by the fact that teachers are engaging more and more with technology, and now come to him requesting the types of technology that will be most beneficial to students in their classrooms. He says that this is an important shift. Watch the School Committee rolling agendas as we approach April and mark your calendar to hear the presentation of the plan!