Discussion of a potential all-new digital school in Lodi Unified School District was stopped in its tracks by the board of trustees at Tuesday's meeting.
Trustee George Neely hoped the board would direct Superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer to create a committee to investigate the idea of creating an all-digital school by the 2013-14 school year.
Neely currently teaches at a charter high school in Stockton that uses an all-digital model, called the Academy of Business, Law and Education. The model calls for a brick and mortar school manned by teachers that uses computers instead of textbooks, and focuses on technology education.
Bringing that type of school to Lodi Unified could go a long way toward increasing computer knowledge among students and making Lodi an "education destination," said Neely at the meeting.
"We think kids know computers, that they're digital natives. But they know Facebook and computer games, not word processors and spreadsheets," he said. "They need to know about networking and hardware. I don't think we're doing that good a job at that."
At a rough estimate, Neely figured a K-8 school could be outfitted with the proper technology and software for around $160,000.
Other trustees felt the district already has enough problems to address, including reducing class sizes and improving the technology currently in classrooms, without adding on a research project.
"Technology is already an issue in the district. We need to integrate upgrades to all schools, not focus on one school," said trustee Ralph Womack.
A few trustees suggested holding the idea until after the November election, when the district will have a better idea of available funds.
"I agree that we do need something to improve techology education, but we are not in a position right now to do it," said trustee Michael Abdallah.
Tokay Colony Elementary School teacher Sonja Renhult said it was worth exploring the possibility, if only to keep from missing the opportunity. Her class is one of six in the district using iPads, and Renhult sees children's faces light up when they learn with the devices.
"I love being the person who can give my kids this excitement every day," she said. "What if we could show the public how fabulous this could be? Maybe we could get more support."
Jeff Johnston, teachers association president, said the district does not have enough bandwidth to input testing data each year without major hassles.
The board came to a consensus: They would not throw out the idea of a digital school, but they would put it on hold.
Neely was suprised at the board's decision.
"There's no cost in just looking at the idea," he said after the meeting.
It is not yet clear when the idea will surface again.