The proposed technology budget for Homewood-Flossmoor High School shows an increase of more than $150,000. The majority of the budget is for replacement technology.
Steve Richardson, director of information services, said the department’s $867,514 proposal for the 2023-24 school year, covers 16% for new technology and 84% for replacement technology. He told members of the District 233 Finance Committee at its April 25 meeting that “we have life cycles for equipment.” In the 2022-23 school year, the department purchased new staff computers. This year teacher devices will be replaced.
Teachers have very specific requests that reflect “the evolution of technology,” Richardson said. When he started at H-F 21 years ago, “everybody was asking for everything.” Now he finds that teachers present “good rationale” for the equipment they’re requesting. He said they are looking for equipment that allows for mobility, flexibility and an excellent presentation and are “getting excited about integrating technology into the classroom.”
“Young teachers have expectations, and our students were born out of technology,” he said. Teachers are asking for the Newline Interactive TV. Richardson explained that “it’s cheaper than a projector, you can put it on a cart, and it has an interactive white board, touch screen and video conferencing.” It also will allow a teacher to stream content for homebound students. The system also gives teachers the option of connecting a computer in it for even greater flexibility.
“We always want to make sure technology fits our district needs and beta tested (the Newline system) this year and teachers loved it,” Richardson said.
The Newline system will be replacing a “projector that was set in place, it had maintenance costs and projectors were difficult to get,” he told committee members. “For the same cost, we’ll get a TV with an 8-10 year life span and it’s interactive and it’s collaborative and has lots of apps and resources.” Richardson said the equipment will be going to the math, English, film, social science and the Career and Technical Education departments.
Several departments asked for specialty equipment. Applied Academics will replace equipment in three labs. Richardson said one classroom requires high-end laptops to run CAD (computer assisted design) programs. The Fine Arts Department uses Apple products and asked for updated iPad Pros, iPads, and Apple Pencils for staff and classrooms, as well as five iMacs to replace 10-year-old VTV Macs. The science department request includes a computerized telescope. Outdated security cameras in the field house will be replaced.
The PE department will be including technology in the weight room with 24 iPads mounted on equipment to help students keep track of the intensity of their workouts and set goals for themselves using the Perch Velocity Based Training Solution equipment.
Adam Vogel, department chair, told Finance Committee members for the traditional weight training program the computer program can measure weight and time and power. It also will allow students to follow a better regiment between off-season and in- season training, he said, and it will help reduce injuries as students avoid pushing for unhealthy maximums.
Superintendent Scott Wakeley told committee members: “Very few high school programs talk about weight lifting. This is a smarter approach to not just building up our athletes and our students, but training. There’s a difference. It’s so important not just for the health and safety but the health and well-being” of students.
Richardson estimates $320,000 of the budget request will be for the purchase of Chromebooks for the incoming freshman class, as well as a few for replacement stock. Richardson estimates he will need 800 devices for the incoming freshman class, transfer students and to have replacement devices on hand. The cost is $400 per device, up from last year’s $385 cost.
Each freshman receives a device that is theirs for their four years at H-F. Richardson said students take the devices with them when they graduate. He estimates students should be able to get a fifth year of service from the device.