Out on a Limb, Part I

As reported in the N&O, much has to be reconciled prior to the state making good on the $660M restitution of fines and forfeitures to public schools as ordered by Judge Manning.

The exact amount each district would get hasn’t been determined, but it would be based on the number of students they have. School districts would have to use the money to buy computers.

Simple math divides the $660M by the state’s 1.4M students to come up with a per student allotment of $471. Multiply that number by the number of students in an LEA—say 8250 in Carteret, for example—to get an idea of what kind of money we’re talking about. For Carteret, it comes to just under $4M.

There are a lot of “ifs” here. But if the deal comes down, and if the funds are distributed equitably, and if it takes five years to do this — Carteret would be looking at about $777K per year. That is right at the number that we have always targeted as necessary to do a good job of maintaining our current inventory. It does not factor in growth.

The other part of the “if” equation is “then.” If the money is allocated for computers, then where in education does the money come from? More from the N&O:

But the districts are worried that the state could comply by taking money out of existing education funding. Michael Crowell, the lawyer representing the N.C. School Boards Association, said Friday that the group is trying to negotiate a settlement.

“We don’t want to be in a position where the state says, ‘You want $650 million, you can have it, but we’ll take it from somewhere else,’ ” Crowell said.

The bigger concern I see with this deal is that the focus remains on stuff, rather than substance. The most challenging part of the technology build-up in schools is not in the acquisition, but in the application.

The heavy lifting, therefore, is what we do with technology to enhance teaching and learning for 100% of our students and staff.

Stay tuned . . . a radical thought on that is coming up in Part II of “Out on a Limb.”

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