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District long-range planning goals look ahead to 21st century technology

The Brainerd School Board Long Range Planning Committee met Thursday to update and discuss the district’s long-range planning goals, focusing an emphasis on 21st century technology learning in the classrooms.

“What we want to do is increase that effective and meaningful use of technology in all of our (school) systems,” said Superintendent Steve Razidlo. “Even as they change as fast as we can keep up with them, it’s important to take steps to increase the use of technology in our schools to better increase our student engagement and increase student learning.”

The committee unanimously moved to recommend the school board proceed with a $335,000 expenditure for technology advancements.

Hearing from four representatives at varying teaching levels in the district — Forestview Middle School media specialist Chris Kelly, Baxter Elementary media specialist TyAnne Guida Rezac, school district K4 science coordinator Robin Halverson, and Brainerd High School english/language arts teacher Audra Albrecht — the school specialists brought forth examples of how they are currently using technology in the classroom.

Kelly explained that FMS is in its first year of using e-books, allowing students to bring in their own technological device to check out books from a digital library. Rezac and Albrecht praised the district’s use of Google Docs and the cloud, where students are able to easily and effectively communicate with their teachers.

Director of technology Pam Dyson explained the district’s need to advance the use of wireless capabilities throughout the schools in order to obtain a further value of technology, proposing a $335,000 expenditure to do so for the 2012-13 school year. The allotted money Dyson said would be used to bump the current 74 wireless access points to 289.

Looking at the numbers, Brainerd director of business services Steve Lund said that surrounding areas with similar sizes (Alexandria, Bemidji and Moorhead) averaged 67 percent balances saved for technological use. Including the proposed $335,000 for the 2013 fiscal year would put the projecting ending balance at $916,00 representing 61 percent and providing, according to Lund, a “safe balance given the budget.”

JESSI PIERCE may be reached at 855-5858 or by email at Follow her on Twitter @jessi_pierce