Thursday, February 14, 2002

Cape school technology expands

Published in the Current

Cape Elizabeth schools have more and better computer equipment than last year, and are on track to take technology even further in coming months, according to Gary Lanoie, technology coordinator for the town\ and the school district.

At the regular school board meeting Feb. 12, Lanoie presented the annual report on technology in the schools. He said teachers need time to learn how to use the new tools and to integrate them into the classroom.

He noted that the district is making progress in helping teachers feel comfortable using technology, by holding summer technology classes for staff and sending some teachers to classes and workshops outside the district.

In terms of equipment, this school year has seen the refitting of the Pond Cove School’s computer lab, the distribution of the old lab machines to classrooms around the building, the addition of a “mobile lab” of Internet-connected laptops for the middle school, the installation of a high-quality color printer in each building, and network and file-server upgrades to improve reliability and functionality of computers in the schools.

On the slate for the next school year, and under consideration during the budget process, Lanoie said, will be updating the middle school computer lab and moving the previous lab machines to classrooms in the middle school. Another consideration, Lanoie said, is a mobile lab for the high school, which he said “needs to be done at some point in time.”

One highlight is a new higher-speed Internet connection, which has enabled the addition of a distance-learning and video-conferencing lab in the high school’s underused lecture hall. The equipment needed for the lecture hall retro-fit cost $110,000 in state money, and requires about $6,000 annually for the district’s contribution toward the cost of Internet access.

That is slightly more than the district was paying for its previous, slower connection, and far less than the actual cost of the connection. About three-quarters of the total cost is covered by federal and state programs that subsidize Internet access fees for schools and libraries.

And, if it is successful, the governor’s laptop initiative will also affect the schools’technology infrastructure and teacher preparedness.

The initiative includes training time for teachers to get familiar with the laptops and the software they come with.

“This project is more about teaching and learning than about technology,” Lanoie said.

The district also has hired a new technology assistant, Ginger Raspiller, now working as an educational technician in the Westbrook schools. Raspiller will begin work in Cape Feb. 25.