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Tech Bond Informational Meeting Tomorrow

On Tuesday, January 14 at 7:00 in Grosse Pointe South’s Wicking Library, the League of Women Voters, Grosse Pointe will provide all residents of the Grosse Pointe Public School System an opportunity to directly ask administrators and teachers questions regarding the proposed technology bond to be voted on this February 25.

The plan will provide much needed upgrades in infrastructure and security systems, but most importantly, this proposal will provide teachers with the tools needed to individualize instruction, improve student performance, and prepare Grosse Pointe children for a 21st century world outside of the classroom.  Currently, valuable class time is wasted working with obsolete equipment, student performance on state-mandated testing has suffered due to outdated equipment, and many graduates have shared that they were not prepared with the technology expertise expected at the college level.

Furthermore, since 2008 Lansing has cut K-12 funding in a way that has equaled a loss of $6.5 million in funding to the Grosse Pointe Public School System.  Teachers have recently agreed to an 8% decrease in their pay and a 20% increase in their benefit contributions.  Over the years, this district has made the tough choice to maintain programs and keep class sizes small.  This was a wise decision, but as a result, technology improvements took a back seat.  Now, as communities like St. Clair Shores, Fraser, and Troy begin to surpass Grosse Pointe with regards to technology, the administration has decided to tackle the issue in a way that does not further cut an already bare bones budget. 

Recognizing that many in the community have concerns about the bond, the League of Women Voters has invited all residents of the community to ask their questions directly of the people making the proposal.  Superintendent, Dr. Tom Harwood, Assistant Superintendent, Chris Fenton, and Michigan Teacher of the Year, Gary Abud will all be on hand to address the public’s concerns and explain in detail how the bond will help students and the community.

This is an issue that will have a direct impact on the quality of education our district provides its students.  The Grosse Pointe community is highly regarded for the stellar services and quality of life it offers its residents.  This important proposal will preserve Grosse Pointe’s legacy of being one of the best places in Michigan to live and raise a family.  

GP Tech Yes would like to encourage all residents to attend this meeting and ask the tough questions.  The strength of our community depends on it.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Pete Waldmeir, GP Woods January 13, 2014 at 12:24 PM
If this is just an interested community member who wants to raise other folks' taxes, why doesn't he/she sign his/her name? Sounds to me like this is just the Pro Yes party line direct from the GPPS school board or its flack. I can see Patch printing fluff like this, but at least require a signature.
GP Tech Yes January 13, 2014 at 01:11 PM
Pete, you are correct. GP Tech Yes is a group organized to campaign for the passage of a bond that we believe will be a tremendous asset to our community and our children. You can learn more about the organization by reading our description here on Patch or by visiting our website at http://GPTechYes.org. Our blog posts are a collaborative effort by the group, which is why the byline is GP Tech Yes, not one person's name. This particular blog was initiated by Chris Profeta with input from the rest of the group. I hope this addresses your concerns.
Pete Waldmeir, GP Woods January 13, 2014 at 04:20 PM
And who might you be - the person doing the responding? You folks who are so in favor of raising everyone's school taxes by a whopping 4 mills sure ought to be brave enough to sign a name. Mine's on this. Where's yours?
Allison Baker January 13, 2014 at 04:56 PM
Pete, Chris Profeta was the person who responded to you earlier, but if you are interested in who we are I suggest you go to our website www.gptechyes.org, you can check out our endorsement page and get an idea of some of your neighbors that are endorsing this bond.
Laura Gushee Monahan January 13, 2014 at 05:19 PM
Hi, Pete…my name is Laura Gushee Monahan. Front and center. I am also a proud member of GP Tech Yes, a group of Grosse Pointe community members who stand behind the Board of Education's decision to ask Grosse Pointe residents to help make critical improvements to our public schools. By the way, I don't believe anything I have to say, or any group I am involved in, is fluff. But it's so easy to throw out labels like that, without backing it up with anything substantive. In any case, I'm another real live person who is fervently behind this bond. Again, that's Laura. Gushee. Monahan.
Judy Gafa January 13, 2014 at 05:36 PM
Hi Pete thought I would clarify the actual millage rate, it is 2.28 mills. Here is a link to the actual ballot language as it appears on the Febuary ballot. http://gpschools.schoolwires.net/cms/lib05/MI01000971/Centricity/domain/22/tech%20bond%202013/Nov13/Ballot%20Language%20Feb%2025.pdf
Christopher Profeta January 13, 2014 at 07:24 PM
It is not at all an uncommon practice for organizations to collaborate on a piece of writing and publish it under the name of the organization. I apologize if you felt someone was trying to "put one over on you," but your response highlights a very important problem in our community that I think this bond has drawn out. It is unfortunate to me that an issue as serious as this, for the second time here on a Patch discussion thread, has been overshadowed by a more procedural discussion. Last time it was the title I chose to introduce board treasurer Judy Gafa's article, this time it is the use of our group name. I wish we could focus more on the educational issues related to this school bond, and weigh them against the cost to residents in a thoughtful way, but opponents of the bond have yet to engage in that discussion. The facts are, that for roughly $15-20/month, I can support the use of tools in our children's classrooms that are proven by researchers in the field of education to enhance student engagement and information retention, improve assessment performance, and encourage parental involvement. If in light of those facts we still want to have a debate of blog posts and titles, we can do that, but we will be doing our community a grave disservice.
persephone January 14, 2014 at 04:37 PM
Finally. Someone to represent the opposition to such an enormous tax increase. Despite the fact that the Propaganda Machine wants to paint a dissenting voice as that of a non-progressive scrooge, the ACTUAL opposition is not to tech, per se, its to the ridiculous, bloated thing being put before the public. Which is also by the way filled with pork. The last time I checked, security cameras and steel doors weren't tech. And the last thing I want is for all of my kids to get an Ipad, since I'm trying to reduce their screentime, not increase it at my own expense. https://www.facebook.com/#!/ResidentsforResponsibleSpending
Diane Smith January 14, 2014 at 07:09 PM
The last time I commented, it was deleted for no good reason. I am still voting NO! Are you going to delete this post too?
Sharyn Bovat January 16, 2014 at 03:25 PM
I think it's important for the internet to be used as a tool to get information that the mainstream media is not willing to provide. Education needs to happen on how to look as sources with an open mind. People need to learn how to properly understand that some of what they read is wrong - money should be spent on EDUCATION on the Internet & Internet safety http://nissanwhistleblower.blogspot.com/2014/01/dod-whistleblower-going-crazy-to.html
Laura Gushee Monahan January 16, 2014 at 03:37 PM
Oh my gosh, Sharyn, I couldn't agree with you more! I was just saying that to someone the other day! I think that is another part that this tech bond will address…you can already see it within the pilot classrooms where this kind of 21st century technology is in use (thanks to grants from the Foundation for Education.) I am confident that the content of the information gathered via technology will be emphasized as much as the source when implementing technology into the curriculum. The purpose of technology in the classroom is to empower students and their independent thinking. To know when to question and when to have confidence in their research. I also am confident that internet and online safety will be another component of this well-rounded education which will include technology in our schools. Curriculum is certainly evolving, and I am excited about where we are going! We have fantastic teachers who know they are not longer the be-all, end-all of knowledge and have evolved to become a conduit between students and information, especially since the information itself is constantly changing.
Jan Murphy January 16, 2014 at 10:27 PM
Was able to watch the televised replay of the LWV forum for the Tech Bond tonight. The school district panel did a great job fielding questions and turned my undecided vote to a YES vote. The LWV kept appropriate order to the flow of questions in spite of the obnoxious behavior of a few of the audience members. Lastly, one might wonder that if this newly formed "Heck No" group put as much energy into getting the unfunded mandates (Ie; 911 phone system) funded by the state as they are getting their "Heck No" message out - perhaps the bond amount may have been lower.
MaryLynn Bertetto January 17, 2014 at 07:39 AM
So anyone who disagrees with the bloated tax hike is obnoxious? Wow - very open-minded. How about the people pushing for the residents to fund this millage, spend THEIR time and energy cutting the non-tech fat out of it instead if getting THEIR message out?
Laura Gushee Monahan January 17, 2014 at 09:36 AM
I am baffled, MaryLynn, and maybe you could explain. What part of the bond proposal is "fat" and "bloated?" Have you looked at the proposal in depth? I have and if I thought there was anything in the proposal that was not absolutely necessary, I would not be so vocally for it. I believe that lighting (which was meant to be a cost-savings over time due to the energy-efficient nature of it) was removed. There was some talk in a board meeting in November about carpet replacement and painting…but those were patiently and thoroughly explained to the questioner (Mrs. Pangborn) to be what will need to be done when upgrading computer labs and you need to do physical changes to the rooms to make sure they are wired correctly. Our phone system need to be upgraded t comply with emergency mandates by the state. Security…well, just last night, a etcher was allegedly robbed in the parking lot of Poupard at 4PM. Having more security, like cameras that are functional and interactive, could be a lifesaver. As for the behavior alluded to by Jan Murphy, I was at the informational meeting on Tuesday myself and was a little amazed at the outbursts from one particular audience member. Her hostility was palpable. People who oppose this bond for one reason or another, are doing so in such a disrespectful manner. And most of them seem totally misinformed of what is even in the proposal and why it is a necessary, responsible way to handle our district technology deficits. They cite incorrect numbers. They hurl insults and are condescending. They imply that they have a better plan, yet when pressed or looked into, you see that their ideas rely on things like spending good money after bad - like just taking $3 million to replace old computers. What good would that do when our entire operating system is ancient and they wouldn't run, let alone allow our students to comply with new state-mandated testing? That's directly tied into our school rating and without that, our district and community loses a lot more than just a 21st century education. That ties into property values. Does that seem fiscally responsible? And how do they propose to get that money? The general fund and the sinking fund. First, from what I understand, you can't use the sinking fund for technology…there are strict laws against that. Second and more important, we don't have nor will we have that kind of money in the general fund to begin with…and even if we did, spending it down and reducing fund equity is no way to handle a district responsibly. There is no other way to do make these vital technological upgrades than a bond. This bond. One that has been carefully, slowly and systematically developed over almost a full year. One last thing…I am a resident. An individual. I have never once felt "pushed" into funding this millage (which, by the way, would still put us on the low to mid range of school millages of like districts) by the Board or administration. I am pushing for it because I personally believe in it. And that is MY message.
MaryLynn Bertetto January 17, 2014 at 11:25 AM
No matter how many times you repeat it Laura, lighting, phones, carpeting, doors and cameras are not tech improvements.
Jan Murphy January 17, 2014 at 04:42 PM
Ms. Bertetto, Nowhere in my comments did I call out ANYBODY specific when I mentioned audience members were being obnoxious. From the video perspective I heard the LWV caution the crowd twice (after explaining procedural rules in the beginning) to please not comment out loud. I couldn't see who they were. Thank you, though, for informing the "Patch" readers that it was the "Heck No" group that was being disrespectful of the outlined process.
MaryLynn Bertetto January 17, 2014 at 05:04 PM
Wrong again Jan.
Jan Murphy January 17, 2014 at 06:20 PM
Ummm...lets review: My comment: "The LWV kept appropriate order to the flow of questions in spite of the obnoxious behavior of a few of the audience members." Your Comment: "So anyone who disagrees with the bloated tax hike is obnoxious? Wow - very open-minded." I think that makes it pretty clear who owns the information. Have a nice weekend.
Laura Gushee Monahan January 17, 2014 at 06:25 PM
Well then, one more time won't hurt. I suppose, MaryLynn, that when the computer labs are upgraded (so that they actually don't crash in the middle of a standardized test), the installers should make sure not to poke any new holes in any of the walls to run the connections they need…or the spackle needed to repair them would not be covered in your world? Since spackle isn't technically a "tech" item? As for phones and security…last time I checked, those were pretty much tech items. Lighting isn't in the proposal anymore. And doors…again, security items that are necessary for the security systems upgrades. Which are tech items. Perhaps you're right…they really ought to call it the Vitally Necessary Improvements Bond (or VNIB). It's not like anyone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes when all the information is out there for everyone to see. But let's not argue about definitions of this or that item. The bond proposal has been put forth to improve our schools in areas they need vast improvement in. No matter what you call it.
MaryLynn Bertetto January 17, 2014 at 07:37 PM
Your self serving statement speaks for itself Jan. We have perfectly serviceable phones that don't need a new bond to upgrade. And yes, you ladies are correct for a change. Spackel is NOT a tech item. Also doors & lighting. Yay! You got it now.
Kathy Darrow February 04, 2014 at 01:08 AM
Oh,yes, we need to spend $50 million to ensure the computers won't crash during state-mandated testing. The majority of districts in the state are not ready for digital assessments. The state has put the cart before the horse, and should put the plan on hold or help pay for the upgrades. Or perhaps Michigan could design a MichiCloud, as Illinois has done.
Bob Haran February 04, 2014 at 09:11 AM
Kathy, if wishes were horses than beggars would ride. The State of Michigan has no intention of paying for the upgrades to our district technology, or the 911 compliant phone technology for the classrooms that have been mandated. No matter how much we wish they would. In the meantime, my young kids' education is getting shortchanged every day this school year by our failing tech.

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