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Lodi Unified School District ends plan to research all-digital school

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Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:18 am, Wed Jun 27, 2012.

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.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com. For more information about local education issues, read our Education Café blog.

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  • Allen Davis posted at 3:46 pm on Thu, Jun 28, 2012.

    allenluchador Posts: 16

    And, while we are at it, new digital school? WTH!!!!????? What in the world are you thinking George Neeley? Yes it sounds great and trendy to be opening up a fancy new digital school. but George, we have high school kids that read at the third grade level. We have playing fields at McNair that can't even get watered correctly because our maintenance people cannot supervise the installation of a working irrigation system.
    Schools are literally falling apart. Programs are being cut. Buses cost too much to use for sporting events. Lodi students are raising money to build a track that the district should have built years ago. And, you want a brand new digital school so you can skim the cream of the crop kids off of others school rosters and have something that looks good on paper and serves maybe 2-300 students in this district while over 20,000 go without? George, come back to reality. Please, fund the programs we already have correctly. We should upgrade our technology in all schools. Right now the tech dept, cannot even serve the schools we have properly and you want a total digital high school. Even attendance in this district is supposed to be digital, but this lame district still prints out every attendance sheet from every class and stores it in some giant locker some where. Whatever happened to going paperless. The inept leadership in the tech dept. cannot get it right, teachers wait months to get classroom computers fixed and you want a digital high school? Good Luck.

  • Allen Davis posted at 3:37 pm on Thu, Jun 28, 2012.

    allenluchador Posts: 16

    A Couple of questions: One why was there no mention of the school board meeting for LUSD, held 6/26. Two, was the supt.'s salary and contract renewed at $215,000 again? If so this is outrageous. She makes more than our governor. And just to rub it in, she gets a car allowance so she can ride around in her Cadillac Escalade while the rest of the people in the district are facing salary cuts and lay offs. Supplies in the libraies and classrooms are bare bones. Schools are in bad need of repair, they are cutting back on sports and buses, and yet we can pay our supt. more than jsut about any district in Northern Calif. and certainly not representative of salaries in this community. This smells like a old dead skunk under the house. Wake up school board, quit drinking the Kool Aid



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