What the candidates say

What do local school board candidates say they'll do to get technology into the classrooms?

“Putting new technology into the classroom is easier said then done. Local school board candidates all see technology education as important. But they don’t all agree on how to pay for it, or where it falls on the priority list. Here are some of their comments:COUPEVILLE SCHOOL BOARD, Position 1Candidate Valerie Wiley said “We are steadily moving forward but not fast enough for some of us.” She said the hardest part about planning for technology is that technology itself keeps changing. Just the same, Wiley said teaching kids to use technology and using technology to teach are important goals.“Our job is to prepare our kids for work. On applications for jobs it now asks what (software) applications you can use. It’s very important,” she said. COUPEVILLE SCHOOL BOARD, Position 4Joel Brown says the Coupeville district is doing “quite well” with technology.“But we can always do better,” he said. “Were working now on getting more and better computers into the classroom.”Brown said schools need to keep technology in perspective.“It’s only a tool. It will never replace the human being. We can’t turn a student over to a computer in place of working with a teacher,” he said. As to paying for technology upgrades, Brown said money is tight.“The money is not coming from the Legislature for this. You have to go out and find it and you have to work hard to get it.”OAK HARBOR SCHOOL BOARDPosition1 Candidate Kathy Jones said she has been impressed by some Oak Harbor teachers who have used the Internet to create better communication between themselves, students and parents.“That to me is the goal. To get every teacher trained so they can do the same,” she said.Jones said paying for technology will have to be done through a combination of local, state and federal money as well as business partnerships and grants. She said the state Legislature has not supplied the financial support it should.“But I don’t place a lot of hope in waiting for the state Legislature. If we wait, our kids will go without,” said Jones. She said she doesn’t expect the district to ask local voters for money to buy hardware, but she does approve of a levy that would help pay for technology training for teachers.Position 2Vicki Harring was unavailable for comment.Position 3Candidate Bill Burnett says technology is definitely important in today’s school curriculum because students will need to be ready for the job market.“When they get out there they have to be comfortable with the computer because it has become a basic tool of the workplace,” he said.But Burnett cautions that keeping up with the pace of technology can be costly.“If you make a big investment in technology, five or six years down the road, you’re looking at replacing a lot of hardware and software. You have to ask how does it make education better and not just more expensive,” he said. As to the cost, Burnett said the state needs to provide more funding but also said schools will likely have to look to business for additional support.Incumbent John Dyer said “we have a good, solid five-year technology plan. The problem continues to be funding.” He said purchase of hardware and software for the classroom is only part of the demand and that staff training is equally important.“Bringing about 500 people up to speed is going to require a lot,” Dyer said. He said the state drive to bring more technology into education is good but the state Legislature is not backing up their demands with dollars.“All we can do on the local level is fit it in when we can,” he said. Position4Incumbent Susan Waller said Oak Harbor schools need to keep pace with technology.“It’s important because that’s where the world is headed. The further we fall behind the further behind our kids are going to be,” she said. Waller said the district’s technology plan is sound but there is not enough money currently available to fund it. Though the district is making more of its schools computer-ready, Waller said the key factor will be how the district combines technology with its curriculum.“That’s going to take money for teacher training,” she said.Brien Lillquist said, “I was not in favor of the computer levy when it was run and I’m still not convinced that computers are a fix-all to problems in the classroom. We need to get down to the ABC’s of education and teach the basics.”Lillquist said some school districts pour a lot of money into technology only to find it not used.“A lot of teachers don’t utilize the technology either because they don’t want to come up to speed with the technology or aren’t capable of it,” he said. He warned against buying too much.“Today’s technology is tomorrow’s garbage,” he said.”