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Teachers’ group critical of decision cutting tech upgrade

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POSTED August 15, 2012 1:13 a.m.

RIPON – Ripon Unified may have missed its chance at becoming cutting edge in technology.

So says Rod Wright, president of the Ripon Unified District Teachers Association.

On Monday, he blasted the school board for excluding computers and technology upgrades throughout the district from the recently-approved bond measure that will go before the voters in November.

“We had a chance to do so much more,” said Wright, who indicated that many teachers at Ripon High have to do without computers in their classrooms.

He was wowed by the advanced technology seen at other high school campuses, in particular, Clovis Unified.

“We’re still using overhead projectors (at RHS),” Wright said.

Trustees narrowly nixed a $30 million bond proposal package last month that included new computers and upgraded technology as well as permanent structures at Weston and Colony Oak elementary schools to replace the aging portable units and pay off the debt at the Clinton South school farm.

They convened again on July 31, meeting with a consultant of Caldwell Flores Winter, Inc. at the special session. This time, the board approved a $25 million bond proposal consisting of a reduced project list.

Trustee Kit Oase called it a compromise, believing the district might be able to find other funding sources to upgrade computers and technology. “We had to make the decision (to rebuild Colony Oak and Weston and pay off the school farm),” he said.

Both elementary sites were in dire need of replacing their aging portable classrooms.

New computers in the classrooms are more likely at the RUSD elementary campuses thanks to the support of the respective Parent Faculty Clubs.

Fundraising groups at Ripon High are usually geared at supporting the sports programs and other extracurricular activities.

“Any extra money needed for the classroom is done through bake sales,” Wright said.

He called Park View elementary the choice school in the district and not RHS, where Wright is a teacher and head boys’ basketball coach.

“Park View looks nice and has better technology,” he said.

Earlier, Park View officials were recognized by Superintendent Louise Johnson as a California Business for Education Excellence Honor Roll School for the third time. The school was the first in the district to exceed 900 in the Academic Performance Index of the state’s Standardized Testing and Reporting program.

Meanwhile, Wright believes that even without the technological upgrades RUSD students will continue to succeed.

Trustees, in addition, approved the technology plan that will be funded via E-Rate Program.

“We’re going to have a good year,” he said. “But we had a chance to do so much more.”

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