Parents and other individuals with concerns and questions about the distribution of 23,000 computers to students in Manteca Unified can look forward to Friday when district officials will start doling out answers and explanations.
Those will come in the form of FAQs (frequently asked questions) placed on the first page of the district’s website – www.mantecausd.net – which will be focused mainly on concerns and questions that have been forwarded to Superintendent Jason Messer’s office regarding the district’s $30 million Going Digital project.
Messer made that announcement at Tuesday night’s Board of Trustees meeting after a lengthy public-comment portion followed by discussion among the board members and district officials on the specific agenda item regarding the manner in which parental concerns on the multimillion-dollar project should be addressed.
As of Tuesday, more than 8,000 of the Panasonic 3E computers have been deployed or distributed to more than half a dozen high school and elementary campuses, Messer announced. Out of that number, 21 parents have expressed concerns about the project, or less than half of one percent, he said.
Messer assured that the district will continue to engage in active communication with parents who are seeking answers and explanations to their concerns. At the same time, he encouraged parents to send those directly to him but that it may take him 24 hours to 48 hours to reply. He made that comment after it was pointed out that some parents are not getting any responses from their children’s school officials, prompting Trustee Nancy Teicheira to raise the question as to who the parents should contact for “future questions.”
Despite those assurances, Danielle Benavides said she “really didn’t get answers” to all of the parents’ concerns. It was precisely because of that she launched the Facebook page, musdgoingdigitalconcerns, which offers an avenue where parents and everybody else can go for an interactive sharing of ideas about Going Digital. The page has 66 friends signed up since it was launched a week ago.
Mainly, Benavides said at the meeting, parents are upset about how the Going Digital program “got rolled out” without an adequate “heads-up” time communicated to parents. She said she found this “troubling” and was “very upset” at the people who are running the program because parents were “not allowed to give our opinions.
“We don’t know what the heck is going on,” said Benavides.
“We’re not against technology; just on how it’s rolled out,” said parent Sandi Gulbronson who echoed Benavides’ sentiment on that matter.
Leo Bennet Cauchon, a district school teacher speaking as a concerned individual, welcomed the idea of a dedicated FAQs page on the district website but went further to suggest that this be updated regularly. He further stated that there be “interactive blogs” on the district website where dialogues can be conducted with the public.
In an email he sent to the board prior to the Tuesday evening meeting, Cauchon also fired off more than a half-dozen questions related to the students’ electronic devices. Some of those questions relate to the provisions included in the student computer agreement and if they can be revised, such as having the devices be optional instead of being mandatory to all 23,000 students enrolled in the district’s 31 campuses.