Technology and academic performance were highlighted Tuesday evening when Lodi Unified School District board members recognized the district's Urban Utility Vehicle, reviewed the progress of two-year technology grant and heard a report on LUSD students' performance on this year's standardized tests.
Board members took a brief sojourn from their meeting in the John Muir Elementary School multipurpose room to the school's parking lot, where they received a demonstration of programs offered inside the UTV, a recreational vehicle turned technology lab.
The hi-tech vehicle began as a concept created in part by Randy Malandro, LUSD instructional technology coordinator, who took the idea of a bookmobile and applied it to computers.
Equipped with 26 student laptop computers, the UTV services 19 of the district's Title I schools, which receive funds from the state to improve academic performance. The program targets the districts lower performing students and teachers can recommend individual students who may need special attention.
"We take them to the highest level they can go before we send them back to the school," Malandro said. "Hopefully, they can become successful."
Malandro later presented trustees with an update on the progress of the $1.1 million Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) grant, awarded to improve the use of computer software both inside and outside the classroom.
Because of grant funds, Malandro said, LUSD now has a computer for every teacher, one printer and LCD projector for every two teachers as well as a 5 to 1 student to computer, compared to 12 to 1 last year.
Student performance was emphasized in a report by Paula Carroll, LUSD testing and evaluation coordinator, on the district's standardized test results.
Carroll explained the process by which she will share the information on each school with administrators, so that teachers can make curriculum changes to better serve the students who need help the most.
Additionally, the board approved an anti-drug program curriculum for the district's K-5 schools called "Too Good for Drugs." The program encourages parent involvement and open communication in the district's fight against drug, alcohol and tobacco use.
"It isn't just about saying no anymore," said Debbie Whittaker, program facilitator for prevention and student services.
To further commit the district in the war on drugs, board member Richard Jones announced Oct. 23-31 as "Red Ribbon Week," where staff and faculty show their support in the cause against drugs, alcohol and tobacco by wearing red ribbons on their shirt fronts or donning red wristbands. In other matters, trustees approved to change the title and requirements for what was previously the coordinator of health services -- an employee responsible for supervising some 50 school nurses, speech therapists and classified employees -- into the coordinator of special services. The position called for an applicant with administrative credential, a bachelor's degree and a nursing degree and was advertised four times with no real success.
The description was changed to emphasize administrative abilities in hopes of attracting a broader applicant pool, though some LUSD school nurses and board members expressed a concern that a medical background be required.