Chromebooks/Tablets for All Students, Subsidized by Taxpayers

The Batavia School Board continues its spending spree. All Batavia students will be given Chromebooks (grades 3-12) or perhaps Tablets (K-2), the cost split evenly between parents ($75/student/yr) and taxpayers. At the end of 2 years, the students can keep their devices.

On 4/22/14, the Batavia School Board approved the plan, 5-2. At least there were 2 school board members (Gaspar and Hodge) who had their thinking caps on. According to the Daily Herald (4/23/14):

Gaspar said he wanted more information about training for teachers, liability issues, and how teachers will be assessed on their use of the devices in their classrooms.

“I feel this is probably the biggest decision I have ever made in this seat. I personally would just like more time with this issue. I would like to slow things down. The financial aspect is what I am having the biggest problem with,” Hodge said.

He said he didn’t like the idea of using some of the money that could be spent on capital items, such as roof projects.

He suggested a longer implementation time.

And at least one parent did her homework. Ellen Knautz revealed the faulty numbers given by the district to the public at both the noon Finance Committee meeting and the evening Regular meeting. The “Registration Fee Comparison” shows Batavia as having the 2nd lowest registration fees of 15 districts. HOWEVER, Mrs. Knautz found online that the registration fees of many districts included technology and other mandatory course fees–fees that are assessed separately by BPS 101.

“My definition of ‘registration fee’ is the check that I pay so my children can go to school on the first day,” she said. This year, that was $155 for her middle schooler and $210 for her high schooler.

That puts the current fees near the chart’s “proposed” fees level, and if the Chromebooks ($75) are then added, Batavia would be the 2nd highest of the 15 school districts. The District Administration’s numbers were very misleading.

Speaking of misleading, the report on the Batavia Fine Arts Center presented at the Finance Committee meeting shows the BFAC turning a profit for the first time. HOWEVER, the balance sheet neglected to include the benefits paid to salaried personnel, as well as the cost of utilities (heating/cooling and other electricity) and the ongoing cost to the taxpayers of bond payments for the BFAC. If you add the benefits of the salaried employee alone (over $50,000), the BFAC operated at a loss AGAIN, and is still not self-sustaining as was trumpeted. Include ALL the numbers, and the black ink turns red. Is this the best the Administration can do?

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