The Lafayette Parish School Board is preparing to do its homework before starting serious talks about asking voters to approve a tax on the spring ballot.
The board's finance committee recently recommended that the board pay $25,000 for a consulting firm to update the school system’s facilities master plan created in 2010 and prioritize the district’s needs.
Meanwhile, Superintendent Donald Aguillard asked the board on Wednesday to create a technology steering committee to review technology infrastructure needs.
“The work will be done very quickly to analyze where we are, what our needs are and to get some report back to the board in October,” Aguillard said.
The October timeline is critical because it’s the time frame the board will need to decide whether to bring a tax to voters in spring 2016, Aguillard said. CSRS Inc. — the firm hired to prioritize facility needs — also plans to have its work done by October.
Aguillard said he recommended that the board create a technology steering committee that was based on a 2013 study. Technology professionals volunteered to review the school system’s infrastructure and needs in preparing the study.
The study found the school system wasn’t spending enough on technology to stay current and proposed creation of a committee to review and implement proposed recommendations.
Aguillard told the board during its meeting on Wednesday that the study also found that the school system’s technology plan at the time was reactionary and stressed the need for a three- or five-year technology plan. The then-board followed through with that suggestion and in May 2013 approved a resolution that created a technology committee, but it’s unclear if the committee was empaneled.
“I have no evidence that there was any additional work,” Aguillard said Friday.
The school system did make technological improvements — spurred in part by unfunded mandates from the state that school districts purchase more computers and update infrastructure to prepare for online standardized testing.
Aguillard said his review of the 2013 report “validated what I had already suspected about technology deficiencies in the district.”
He also told board members Wednesday that his goal is a 1-to-1 device to student ratio, meaning every student would have access to technology — whether tablets, laptops or desktop computers. Funding the necessary equipment and infrastructure needs to stay current is also an issue the committee will explore.
“We do not have a funding source right now to address technology needs, and we’ll have to come to some kind of decision about how to provide the hardware and 1-to-1 devices that we need,” Aguillard said.
The superintendent met early Friday with the district’s chief administrative officer, Joe Craig, and the district’s instructional technology director, LaShona Dickerson, to discuss a timeline for the committee’s work.
“Certainly since that original study came out, technology has advanced, but to a certain extent, we know what some of our shortcomings are,” Craig said. “We basically need to take that last report and update it with changes.”
During Wednesday’s board meeting, Aguillard proposed that the committee include two to three board members, central office staff, school-level educators and technology experts from the community. On Friday, he said he planned to move quickly with the appointments and invited those in technology professions in the community interested in serving on the committee to call his office at (337) 521-7014.
Editor's note: This story was updated at 3 p.m. Aug. 10,, 2015, to clarify that the School Board did not decide to pay $25,000 for a consulting firm to update the system’s facilities master plan. The board's finance committee recommended that board do so.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.
Editor’s note: This story was modified on Aug. 10, 2015. The full board has not yet taken up the $25,000 expenditure for the consulting fee. The board’s finance committee, however, has made that recommendation.