School faculty, parents and residents gathered Monday night to discuss the 1.3-mill technology bond proposal the Clawson School District will ask voters to approve in the May election.
It was the first of many meetings the district plans in its grassroots effort to gain support from the community. The proposed millage, approved Feb. 14 by the school board, would fund the purchase of updated technology at each school in the district.
The millage would generate the $4 million the district said it needs to buy equipment including smart boards, desktop and laptop computers, curricular software, smart clickers, wireless Internet in common rooms and enhanced classroom phone systems. The district said the current technology is 10 years old and won't run a lot of the programs that will prepare students for college and the work force.
"It's frightening," parent Cindy Prusinowski said regarding the fact that seniors are using the same computers now that they used in second grade. "I'm excited for (the new technology), and I want my kids to have it."
School faculty members presented some of the proposed equipment at Monday's meeting. teacher Ryan Brinks demonstrated how the smart boards engage students in the classroom. Brinks said teachers can project images of frog dissecting, interactive maps and graphs and class notes on the smart boards.
"It's endless. There's so much online you can just drop right into the smart board," Brinks said during his presentation in the cafeteria.
District officials said last fall that they could not afford to purchase new equipment for each school, and with Gov. Rick Snyder's proposal to cut school funding, the budget will be even tighter. Business Services Director Gary Jackson said the new proposal would cut a total of $700 per pupil from the district's budget. "It's huge in terms of what it means for us," Jackson said Monday.
If voters pass the millage, it will cost the average Clawson homeowner an additional $65 a year, based on an average assessment value of about $100,000 for Clawson homes. Residents will also have to consider a 0.3-mill tax increase for the library on the May ballot.
While parents and residents agree that new technology will benefit students, some fear that gaining enough support for the millage to pass will be challenging.
Clawson resident Butch O'Brien said it's going to be a tough sell for older residents or for those who have no children in Clawson schools.
"I think how it's presented to the people in Clawson is going to be important," O'Brien said.
O'Brien's wife, Betsy, said that although their children have already graduated from Clawson schools, she still supports the millage.
"As a citizen, we are the guardians of the kids that are in our school community," Betsy O'Brien said.
Prusinowski said the community should view the millage as an investment in the future of the up-and-coming generation.
“It’s hard already for young adults to survive in a work environment and get jobs,” she said. “We have to do this for our kids.”