Letter: Westport School Building Committee remains committed tech purchases

Posted 3/17/21

To the editor:

I would like to clear up some inaccuracies in the March 12 Shorelines article on the new school, titled, “Westport school board protests trimmed technology at new …

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Letter: Westport School Building Committee remains committed tech purchases

Posted

To the editor:

I would like to clear up some inaccuracies in the March 12 Shorelines article on the new school, titled, “Westport school board protests trimmed technology at new school”

We are committed to transparency with the public as we conduct our due diligence and at no point did we discuss cutting or limiting technology purchases.  In fact, we had a full discussion about this topic at our February 17 meeting where we outlined the plan for the purchase of technology equipment. 

The MSBA will reimburse technology expenditures for Westport at a rate of 49% up to $1200 per student.  We are using those funds to make purchases for technology infrastructure items and those parts of the technology program which have a long shelf life since we are using our 30 year bond to pay for them.  

Many communities spend more money per student for technology purchases above what is reimbursed by the MSBA.  That will be the case in Westport as well.  

Our discussion at our February 17 meeting involved the relatively short shelf life of laptops and some of the other technology items we need to order — maybe 3-5 years.  On the advice of our Town Administrator, we were looking to find other sources of payment that he thought might be available for these purchases rather than utilizing the 30 year bond since the town will bear the full amount for these expenditures.  Why continue to pay for these items over a 30 year period when they must be replaced so quickly?  

If it turns out that other funding sources are not available for these necessary technology purchases, the committee will vote on funding these technology items from our available contingency funds at a future meeting. 

I would also like to address issues related to changes in programming and the fear that necessary equipment will not be funded.  We have the contingency funds to provide for all necessary equipment.  We have had 3 changes in superintendents since the school building committee was formed in 2015, and similar changes in principals of both the high and middle schools.  There are differences in ideology from the previous administrations about how some of the rooms set aside for special programs should be utilized.  

As it is now late in the project and we are restricted by time and money as to how many changes we can make and still finish the school on schedule. The management, architect, and construction teams are working with the new superintendent to discuss implementing those changes that are feasible and have MSBA and committee approval. 

The project remains on time for the opening of school in September and we continue to be on budget. 

I hope that this gives you a better perspective on the technology issue and I am of course available to answer any questions. 

Dianne Baron

Chair, Westport School Building Committee

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