Understanding our Technology Priorities for 2012-2013

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has begun to transform its learning environments through the use of digital curricula, instructional resources, and interactive whiteboard and mobile technologies. These changes are facilitating important shifts in teaching and learning that allow for more differentiated and personalized instruction. Because of how such technology is funded, there has been an inequitable distribution of these core instructional technologies. Currently, 80 of 132 MCPS elementary schools have fewer than 10 Promethean interactive whiteboards and 31 elementary schools have none. Across the district, 125 schools do not have building-wide wireless access. Parents and educators have asked the system to address this inequity as quickly as possible. On September 11, 2012, the Montgomery County Board of Education passed a resolution approving the purchase of: • • Interactive whiteboard technology for every elementary school classroom and; Wireless networks for every school in MCPS.

This project would level the technology playing field across the district, providing a strong foundation for the growing use of technology in MCPS, including “bring your own device” programs. No additional funds will be needed for this initiative. As it has done in the past, the Board of Education has submitted a request to access federal Education Rate (E-Rate) funding in order to move forward with this technology initiative. If approved, installation will begin during this school year and will be completed by the start of the 2013-2014 school year. This matter will be the subject of a public hearing before the County Council on October 30, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. A vote is expected on November 13. Professional development planning has begun and a variety of professional development opportunities will be coordinated for elementary school staff as each school’s installation is scheduled. What will this effort cost? The total cost for both projects is $14,541,476, which will be financed over five years. The total annual payment for both efforts will be $2,908,296 for each of the next five years. The installation of Promethean interactive technology in 2000 elementary school classrooms will cost $8,949,719, financed at zero percent over five years. The annual payment will be $1,789,944. The installation of secured wireless networks across all schools will cost $4,491,757, financed at zero percent for five years. The annual payment will be $1,118,352. How will MCPS pay for this initiative? The funding for these projects is part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013-2018 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Technology Modernization (Tech Mod) program and includes E-rate funds that will be received by MCPS. The school district is not asking for any additional funds for this project.

October 23, 2012

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created the E-Rate Program to provide schools and public libraries with increased access to telecommunications and the Internet. The program provides a discount for these services by reimbursing local governments for a percentage of the money spent on telecommunications and internet access. This percentage amount depends on several factors, including the level of poverty. These reimbursements are not provided for the purchase of hardware—such as computers—or software. However, once the reimbursed funds are received by the local governments, the funds can be allocated to any purpose the government sees fit. Traditionally, the reimbursements are reinvested in technology in schools or libraries (e.g. the purchase of hardware or software). The Board of Education has previously used E-Rate rebates to purchase computers, hardware and other important technology. MCPS is simply is asking the County Council to allocate some of the E-rate reimbursements toward the purchase of the Promethean Boards and wireless network upgrades. This is similar to receiving a rebate when you buy a large appliance. You had to invest the money in something specific (a refrigerator, a TV, etc.) but when you receive the rebate from the manufacturer, you can spend it on something else. Breakdown of Funding for Technology Modernization (Pending County Council approval)
Years Fiscal Year 2013 Fiscal Year 2014 Fiscal Years 2015-2017 General Revenue $900,000 $0 $1.1 million (per year) Education Rate (E-rate) $2.04 million $3.2 million $1.8 million (per year)

Where will MCPS get the wireless networks and Promethean Boards? MCPS will purchase the Promethean Boards by piggybacking on two statewide contracts that have been put out to bid and conforms with state procurement law. The contracts are with two statewide organizations—The State of Maryland and the Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium. These are the same contracts MCPS and other school systems use to purchase computers and other technology. By using a vendor on these approved contracts, MCPS can negotiate a price that saves the district money. In its 2009 report, the Maryland General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Audits noted that “MCPS has instituted certain best practices that should enhance the cost effectiveness of its procurements. These include piggybacking onto contracts already procured by the State and other local governments, and participating in cooperative purchasing organizations.”

October 23, 2012

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