Q&A: FCCPS Superintendent Jones on New Computer Technology

September 10, 2012

The Falls Church City Public Schools’ purchase of new computers has been the subject of much debate recently.  We asked Superintendent Toni Jones for details.

FCT:  FCCPS is purchasing new computer technology for students. Can you tell us exactly what will be purchased? Laptops? iPads? How many?

Jones:  700 laptops (Macbook Air) , 500 iPads

FCT:  What will they cost?

Jones:  Right now, until the equipment arrives we have not experienced any cost. However, we are working with an equipment total value of $700,000 – either paid in full this year if the city surplus comes through- or $200,000 from our current technology budget with the balance being paid through lease.

FCT:  Will they be used equally across grades?

Jones:  Yes.  Every school building will benefit from this new equipment.

FCT:  Why do our students need this new technology?

Jones:  There are countless reasons why technology is a critical investment for our children and schools. But most importantly, it’s the world that our children live in right now. The highest volume of apps available at the Apple Store are actually books. Children love books that can talk to them and help them read a word when they get stuck. Children can read a fictional story about a dinosaur, and then out of sheer curiosity, click on the link to read factual information about a T-Rex or a Stegosaurus. Information is at their fingertips. In the upper grades, technology greatly enhances their research capabilities. It doesn’t mean they need to be on the computer all the time. It does mean that when they are engaged in an activity that can be enhanced by technology we shouldn’t be afraid to embrace it. Student engagement, without question, has been proven to be heightened when technology is infused at school. We want children to learn, and we want them to love school.

This is a sample clip from a large school district who started with machines, and then after 3 years moved to “bring your own device.” It has some good informational points and they have documented how student engagement has increased at all levels. This is just an example.

This is a clip that is primarily focused on how technology can enhance instruction for special education.

This is a clip about the iPad and textbooks.

This is a clip from a few of our teachers who were working with our summer school this year.

FCT:  What’s the useful life of this technology before it needs to be upgraded to a newer version?

Jones:  That’s a challenging question, in that the life of a machine is actually quite long. The point at which a school- or individual- upgrades their machine depends on what they want to do with the machine. The average lifespan to upgrade is 3-5 years for laptops, but that is not the lifespan of the machine. We have some laptops that are 8-10 years old right now. While they can’t be used to create video and run other instructional programs, we have kept them for web only SOL Virginia mandated testing. In fact, they have been a lifesaver in terms of getting us through testing. For that purpose, they are excellent. Our goal is to reinstate a strong replacement cycle which was reduced during the last three budget cycles. This will make purchasing more manageable during the annual budget.

On another note, the laptops that we are purchasing are new on the market and were just released with the newest version about 6 weeks ago.

FCT:  Does the purchase price include service and maintenance?

Jones:  Yes, It’s a typical warranty like we purchase with every machine in the division, and have done so for many years.

FCT:  What’s your view of how student IT needs will evolve over the next few years. For example, in five years do you think our students will still be using basically the same kind of laptops and tablet computers they use now, or will they be operating off a cloud infrastructure, or what?

Jones:  We are already operating within the cloud. Our learning management system, Google apps, and other teaching and learning tools are cloud based. In fact, almost everything for education is moving in that direction. We have also utilized Virtual technology to repurpose older desktop machines. Utilizing Virtual technology can take an old machine and make it run like a brand new one. We began that process last year so that we could extend the life of our machines for those web based only programs.

There are some great clips from Intel Corporation and other companies that demonstrate the “future” of education. Below are two links that you may find interesting.

A clip from Intel showing technology in the future (in general…not specific to schools).

Another clip from Intel showing a project from start to finish utilizing a future focused vision of what we can do.

FCT:  Where will the new computers be located? Will they remain at school or come home with students?

Jones:  The computers are housed at each individual school site. For the most part, the computers will stay at school because we are not purchasing enough computers to have one for every child.

FCT:  Can you talk to us about how FCCPS makes technology decisions? Is there a staff technology person who designs our approach? Or a group? Do we pay an outside consultant? Are any parents involved in the process?

Jones:  We have a large Technology Innovation Team who are highly proficient in technology, understand the educational needs, and are familiar with our system. We have 3 very highly skilled technicians- a Director, and 2 systems engineers. We have a communications specialist who helps us with aspects such as Google Apps and the web. We also have technology assistants at every building, as well as an instructional technology team which is lead by our Curriculum Instructional Resource Teacher who is based at GM. We come together as one large group so that instructional and infrastructure needs are considered in tandem. Our instructional leader is also one of our parents in the division. In addition, if needed we contract with a few companies who deal almost solely with schools and are highly skilled with complex networking issues. One of the great aspects of working with Apple is they provide free professional development, and with our purchase they provide an implementation specialist who will be onsite with us (here at FCCPS) as we image our new machines and launch out the products for our schools. We have an outstanding team of individuals who work to stay on the cutting edge and watch what is taking place around the country, and around the world.

FCT:  We understand that FCCPS and Falls Church City government do not use a common IT approach or platform. Do you expect more commonality over time, or are the functions of the two organizations just too different to gain efficiencies of scale?

Jones:  We actually work very well together, but our clients, services, and needs are vastly different. Our Director of Technology works with the Falls Church City Director of Technology to see how we can coordinate and share ideas and services. For instance, our phone systems are tightly coordinated. We also work on infrastructure pieces together and when we can coordinate we do. We also share software when we can, such as our financial system. Our IT departments have a great working relationship. However, what we need for a 10 year old and what they need for a court system are not the same. Our infrastructure is designed for a school, and that’s very different than a business or government agency. We have been able to hire and retain technology specialists’ who are accustomed to the needs of schools. Our technology use is not just staff, but every person who is our client (our students) must access technology on a daily basis. We have approximately 2,600 daily users who need to access our system with staff and students from within our organization. Each group of people also need varying degrees of filtering and access rights. Our children have a filtering system that must be incredibly tight.

FCT:  What level of bandwidth is available within FCCPS?

Jones:  We have 30 megabits per second going out, and 50 megabits per second coming in. Right now, it is the maximum that Verizon can provide. They are at their maximum. We are actually requesting that they upgrade so that we can increase.

FCT:  As you know, funding for the new computers has been controversial. The School Board requested $500,000 from the City’s current budget surplus for the purchase of the technology, and there has been a lengthy debate about that within the City Council. However, you were able to proceed with the purchase before the City Council approved the request. How were you able to do that?

Jones:  It’s important to note up front that the school has $200,000 in our current budget for technology, and that is what we are actually spending. That’s why we don’t need City Council to approve the purchase. What is different about this option, is that we are leasing. Our leadership team began discussing this approach early last year when we knew it was another tight budget season, and technology was on our unfunded needs list presented in the budget. The lease concept has been around for years, and it has helped schools all across America stay current and progressive with technology. While it’s not our first choice, it is a great option.

FCT:  There is a school of thought that says young people are becoming too dependent upon computers and smart phones, and would be better served spending more time with books – the paper kind. What do you say to those who make this argument?

Jones:  Personally, I am not sure that it matters if a child reads on a Kindle, an iPad, or reads a paper book. I believe the goal is to get a child to love reading. Children are motivated by technology, and if an iPad visual can help a child find a love for reading, then I hope that we will continue to embrace it. The world is changing, and while we need to be wise about how we use technology with children, we can’t deny that it’s here. Smart phones are no longer just phones. Just eight years ago a child had a calculator, an iPod, a computer, a book, and a phone. These were five separate items that were found in their backpacks. Were they less dependent on the items because they were separate? From watching children in schools, I would say no. The child who loved reading snuck the book under his desk in the middle of Algebra class. The child who loved music had an iPod hanging out of their pocket every minute it was allowed. Now, it’s one device. The key is, what are they doing on that device. Perhaps, they are actually reading an article about the environment or searching for colleges they want to attend. It’s not the technology, it is what they do with the technology that counts.

FCT:  Thanks very much for taking time to provide this information and share your thoughts.

September 10, 2012 


30 Responses to “Q&A: FCCPS Superintendent Jones on New Computer Technology”

  1. My Kids Have Laptops on September 10th, 2012 8:34 am

    Waste of money! Do the kids really need Macbooks and iPads? My children each have their own Toshiba laptops at home paid for by their parents plus an iPad that we all share. We couldn’t afford to buy a house in Falls Church, but we can certainly afford our own computers.

  2. Hendrik A. Jasper, Falls Church, for those who care…that would be the FC Times on September 10th, 2012 9:04 am

    It seems that Dr. Jones has signed this $500,000+ commitment with Apple without getting City Council approval. She and the School Board are now using that questionable commitment to press for the early release of funds. Of course, the FCNP is also playing an unhelpful role in hyping the story, preventing a cooler examination of the subject. Still, one wonders how it suddenly became so urgent to give every student an iPad and MacBook Air. My daughter at MEMHS says her teacher boasts of engineering a deliberate network breakdown on the day of Dr. Jones’ visit, and she scored extra MacBooks as a result. Way to game the system and teach kids that dishonesty rules!

  3. rob on September 10th, 2012 10:53 am

    Any chance all this marvelous technology will eliminate the need for each parent to buy their 8th grader a $100 calculator? Yes, that brick is 1/3 the cost of an ipad2…

  4. mel watson on September 10th, 2012 11:19 am

    Tigten this process up and scrub the need thorougly! Did anyone hear the CFO’s report on expected rCity evenue growth and resulting impact on residential tax rates?

  5. Michael Baker on September 10th, 2012 12:03 pm

    The need is there. Just like we needed calculators in school to replace the outdated slide rules, and we had our first programing classes, our children need to be able to use technology as a tool, and that starts in school. Since it is the schools systems that provides us with the reason our property remains desirable, to nickle & dime the schools is not very productive.
    My son had to have a high-end laptop as part of his college requirements. Most of the work I do with government agencies is on-line today. Schools across the US are now providing laptops or tablets for all of their high school students and some for all students. School are saving money by moving to ebook technology.
    Computers are now as an important part of our learning tools as books have been for years. As the great American poet wrote, “Please get out of the new one
    If you can’t lend your hand.”
    As for going through the City Council – why? I don’t want the City Council teaching my children, and I’d rather the School Board stuck to running the schools. Totally different skill sets and responsibilities.

  6. Gail R Opitz on September 10th, 2012 1:41 pm

    Anyone remember this article? Please read it and ask yourself, “Why are my taxes paying for what one parent calls ‘a need’?” Do you doubt the majority of children in the city have their own computers, iPads, iPhones or Droids, or easy access to some such technology? Do I understand the surplus is a possible three way split? With one third going BACK to the schools, one third BACK to the city, and one third returned to the citizens, aren’t the citizens losing out since it’s already monies we paid for schools and city? It seems like they’re getting a double dip and we’re getting back a very small fraction of this surplus. One other misplaced question…WHY are we outsourcing SO many things in the city? A private landscape company was working the Big Chimneys park last week. Where are the former sanitation workers working? Certaininly not on streets and sidewalks in our neighborhood (Winter Hill)! Oh, did we get emergency disaster funds from the last storm? The governor’s office said we had to request it. Not all those branches from the last storm have been cleaned up, now we have a whole new batch from Saturday’s storm. Okay, I finally got this all off my chest…here’s the article!

    Forbes.com The Economy, America’s Richest Counties Nathan Vardi, 04.11.11, 11:30 AM EDT:

    If you want to get a sense of what an economic powerhouse Washington has become in recent years, look no further than the Virginia suburb of Falls Church City.
    Boasting a strong school system and positioned about six miles from the nation’s capital, Falls Church has for years enticed rich families, making it the nation’s richest county with median annual household income of $113,313.
    “It indicates that the City of Falls Church is located in a healthy economic area in the national capital region,” says Wyatt Shields, city manager for Falls Church. “We are proud of the fact that we take advantage of the city’s healthy economic area to attract people to live here.”
    In recent decades northern Virginia has become an economic dynamo, driven by a private sector that feasts on government contracting. These counties are also home to corporate lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who work in or around the nation’s capital, soaking up federal government spending. And government-related hiring manages to keep the unemployment rate in places like Falls Church City down to 5.7%.

    To determine America’s richest counties, we looked at median annual household income estimates from 2005 to 2009 in each county in the nation, provided by the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey. The estimates are in 2009 inflation-adjusted U.S. dollars.

    Nader Baroukh, the mayor of Falls Church, is not shying away from the designation of being the richest, but he does disagree with one of the U.S. Census’ conclusions. “We are actually a city and not a county, but I can’t comment on how the Census puts its data together,” says Baroukh. “We are a small jurisdiction, about 2.2 square miles, and I think given our location it’s a very attractive place to live and our top schools are one of the big attractions.”

    So, I ask again, should WE, the citizens, be paying (again) for technology??

  7. My Kids Don’t Have Laptops on September 10th, 2012 3:06 pm

    Not everyone who lives in Falls Church is able to give their kids laptops. And even if they did, do we really want kids taking their laptops to school?

    As someone else pointed out, parents already have to pay for graphing calculators, plus $100 sports “participation” fees and more. It’s a very real burden for families who can’t afford it.

    If we are indeed one of the “richest” areas in the country, can’t our schools afford to educate our children with 21st century tools?

  8. Linda Neighborgall on September 10th, 2012 4:00 pm

    I write this comment, fresh from yet another rising of Hillwood River during this weekend’s storm, a river of brown runoff mixed, this time, with copious quantities of crud from the 24-Hour Fitness construction site. Thus, I am again feeling acutely the need for a substantial investment in storm water management, an investment the City cannot or will not fund … although it can fund the purchase of 1,200 IT devices for students, most of whom, I strongly suspect, have already been provided such devices by their parents, as it should be. And Dr. Jones informs that the fully functional life of these devices is 3-5 years, after which they will have to be replaced. We’ve lived on Hillwood for 35 years, and we have yet to receive one meaningful upgrade of our inadequate water management infrastructure. We are not alone.

    In any case, when I read the first part of Dr. Jones’ post, I felt a small jolt of encouragement. The first video clip sang paeans to the utility and success of BYOD (bring your own device) in one school district. You can find similar success stories among more local school districts. Could it be that FCCPS is, indeed, looking for IT system solutions, rather than personal hardware purchases, to meet students’ long-term technology needs? Probably not, it turns out. BYOD clearly has been rejected for students – although Dr. Jones’ remarks during the school convocation inform that the FCCPS IT department is at least working on system-wide WiFi and BYOD, apparently limited to teachers’ and administrators’ use, “for fall”.

    The rest of Dr. Jones’ post is devoted to video clips showing how much teachers and students like using IT, how useful technology is for rural and distance learning, and how supportive IT hardware and software providers are of IT hardware and software use. And I have to agree with them all, 100%, that technology is important, desirable, and integral to learning, and that FCCPS should maximize its use to improve learning.

    All that misses the larger point, however. The questions I and others are raising have to do with who should be purchasing IT devices for our students and what FCCPS is doing to mitigate the cost of IT in both the short- and long-term. I still haven’t seen published survey results, if they exist, showing how many of our students already own devices and how many students cannot afford them and should get them at taxpayer expense. I still haven’t seen any persuasive evidence that FCCPS is open to looking for IT solutions that will take city taxpayers off the hook for device replacement every 3-5 years. I am discouraged to think that city policy will continue to favor draining critically needed infrastructure improvement funds that would benefit the entire city directly, in favor of providing expensive computing devices for something like 29% of city households that have students in the school system.

    Information technology is a good and necessary thing. So is infrastructure improvement and storm water management. It’s a matter of funding priorities and looking for fair, creative ways to do both.

  9. Dennis Szymanski, Falls Church on September 10th, 2012 8:12 pm

    Here’s a link for BYOD that’s a little closer to home – Fairfax County


  10. Andy Rankin (Falls Church) on September 10th, 2012 10:51 pm

    Linda, I’d love to see more specifics about what the City could do (or at least work towards) related to the stormwater problems. It doesn’t seem to me that this is a situation where that problem would be resolved (or even mitigated) if only we hadn’t spent money on the technology needs of the schools.

    I, for one, would be more inclined so support a plan to get the City moving on fixing the stormwater problem if there was something specific to support and if it wasn’t framed as an alternative way to spend money instead of on the schools.

  11. Gordon Theisz, Falls Church on September 10th, 2012 11:05 pm

    My understanding of how this technology will be deployed is different than what I am seeing debated here. I thought the intention of the schools was to have computers (laptops) on carts that they could wheel into a classroom for a specific purpose and then wheel out to be used elsewhere. For SOL’s, these would be used to allow students to practice the tests (something that they haven’t been able to do previously – they have been taking SOL’s and interacting with the system on exam day for the first time). For K-1, the iPADs were going to be used to teach reading, for example, customized to the student’s needs.

    Under no circumstances were any of these devices to be assigned to a particular student. The reason students couldn’t bring their own devices had primarily to do with practical application (trying to help 26 kids with different devices/operating systems/firewalls/network cards/memory access the instruction at the same time is a potential exercise in futility) and security (SOL’s can’t be downloaded to a personal device). I would appreciate it if someone “in the know” on the school side could clarify the BYOD debate.

  12. Victoria Kwasiborski (Falls Church VA & Vienna, Austria) on September 11th, 2012 10:38 am

    Has anyone noticed that nowhere in the Q&A did Dr. Jones actually address how the computers will really be used in the classroom? I saw, “countless reasons why technology is a critical investment” but nothing on the particulars of how our newest entitlement will be integrated with the curriculum, or any discussion on sustainability. I prefer that our teachers assess how my children are reading, rather than letting them “read” using Apps. (And I’m sorry, Michael Baker, but technology readiness really begins in the home. At what point do we parents cede education exclusively to the teachers?) Essentially, computers on carts that are wheeled into the classrooms translate to more wasted time by teachers, as if the student assembly wasted time wasn’t enough. Is that what we want for our students? And BYOD is a stupid idea, let’s just drop that now. It isn’t worth my taxpayer dollars to have teachers wasting more time on workarounds for Mac vs. PC students, much less the individual Internet freedoms on each device. And just because Forbes calls us one of the “richest.” doesn’t mean we should squander our tax money on this frivolity.

    Stormwater issues aside (only because they’re not entirely germane to this discussion, but still of critical importance), Ms. Neighborghal raises the very important point of, “How are we going to pay for this?” What will be the next technology “need” for our students, the iPhone 5? Where will it end?

  13. Gail R Opitz on September 11th, 2012 10:46 am

    Just one quick thought…since technology is constantly changing (a new
    iPhone being introduced tomorrow…the last one how many months ago?) doesn’t leading make more sense? (That’s leasing…can’t get the cursor to go back on this “smartphone”!

  14. Lou Mauro on September 11th, 2012 11:45 am

    Gordon asks a good question. Will the laptops be moved to classrooms on carts or be assigned to individual students? That question leads to Victoria’s point about “internet freedoms.” From my experience as a substitute teacher, the more electronic devices available to individual students the more unauthorized net surfing and game playing. The teachers and IT staff try to enforce the rules but, believe me, they only see the tip of the “goofing off” iceberg. I’m not criticizing the students. If you give a kid a new “toy,” he/she is going to play with it. Should we be deliberately affording them more opportunities to waste learning time?

  15. Cecily Shea on September 11th, 2012 1:52 pm

    The computers and IPads will be on carts that can be moved to classrooms as needed.

  16. Linda Neighborgall on September 11th, 2012 2:29 pm

    Andy, I’m not raising improvements in storm water management as THE alternative to spending on 1,200 IT devices (and how many rolling carts?!), either by purchase or leasing, for our 850-ish students, although it is clearly AN alternative. I’m raising the larger issue of how the city plans for the future needs of both the FCCPS and the rest of the city as a whole and how effectively and equitably it sets its spending priorities. FCCPS must be part of this endeavor; it must do its part. There seems to be a sense that the taxpayers at large should keep their noses out of FCCPS business. It’s regrettable because school business IS our business. We all pay for it. It’s an important part of our business but only one part. As a city, we ought to be striving for the best balance in meeting needs of both school and city sides. I get the sense from talking to others that there is broad concern we are not meeting that goal.

    Ms.Kwasiborski, BYOD cannot be dismissed out of hand as a “stupid idea” until it has been fully explored, along with other potential system-based, rather than hardware based, ways to meet future school technology needs. We also need to know whether, over the long term, BYOD or some other approach is a more cost effective way of providing for IT services. School systems that are already successfully using BYOD suggest that it can be a solution, maybe not the only one, but a solution nonetheless. They have managed to implement IT systems and protocols that don’t overburden classroom teachers with the care and feeding of students’ devices. So it can be done. Maybe FC is not an ideal place for it, but we won’t know without there being an effort to find out. And maybe FCCPS has studies that provide the answer, but such information is not available through the website.

  17. Andy Rankin (Falls Church) on September 11th, 2012 3:19 pm

    Linda, as I’ve said in other places, I’m a big proponent of people digging into and understanding the requests from the school – learning about what they want/need to spend money on. I’m all for that process – I encourage everyone to be involved in the school’s budgeting process (and the City’s).

    For example, I think people asking for more info about the school’s thinking on BYOD vs. the alternative is a good thing. From my personal experience, I’m pretty sure a non-BYOD solution is better (based on my personal definition of “better”) so I’m not as concerned with that issue – but I can appreciate that other people want to dig into it.

    I will say it’s a tad frustrating that people keep talking about the challenges with stormwater management but I never see anyone say, “if only we had $X we could do this specific thing to help us in that area.” For those who know about or are impacted by the stormwater problems – what are the next steps we should be taking? Not funding the school’s technology request doesn’t seem to get us anywhere with stormwater problems.

  18. Victoria Kwasiborski (Falls Church, VA & Vienna, Austria) on September 11th, 2012 3:48 pm

    By virtue of the fact that FCCPS has no plan other than to spend more money on IT “needs” that have not been “fully explored,” I stand by the statement that pretty much anything the school system does with respect to outfitting classrooms and/or students with laptops, or considering BYOD as an option is indeed a stupid idea. Our students should not be the guinea pigs for “cost effective” trials or an “N” for some doctoral thesis on blind IT implementation in the classroom. If Dr. Jones, or the someone in the school system, had put forth a reasonable plan for implementing more of our tax dollars for this entitlement into the curriculum I would be amenable to considering it, but as it’s being presented now it is seems like we’re proceeding by the seat of our pants.

    I am most definitely not against the use of technology in everyday living. We’re VOIP-ing all the absurd telemarketing calls from the US and Slingbox-ing our Michigan football games here across the pond with success. I am also seeing firsthand now the effectiveness of laptops in the classroom, because the curriculum has been integrated with the technology. That’s the disconnect in all of this. Owning a TomTom doesn’t make you a GeoBee champ. Blindly placed laptops in the classroom aren’t going to turn our students into geniuses, either.

  19. Suzanne Updike on September 11th, 2012 4:46 pm

    RE stormwater

    The city has developed a watershed management plan, which lists projects by priority. Over the last few years, there was virtually no CIP money for stormwater, however City staff have finally been promised money for these projects- I think 10 M over the next 5 years. The work will be staggered, so our small city staff can manage things. It’s my understanding that this funding level is about all the city can handle with current staffing levels.

    If we ever get a stormwater utility fee (surrounding jurisdictions do have dedicated revenue for stormwater) then perhaps the city staff could gear up to handle more projects as once….

  20. incognito on September 11th, 2012 8:16 pm

    I am amazed by how little most of you know about how technology is used in our schools, yet you all have an opinion! I have a suggestion….go to the schools and see for yourself. There are IT people on staff at every school who could inform you, show you, take you on a tour, you could see for yourself, even watch what the students do with the laptops and ipads, and then you would have some basis for an opinion and some healthy debate.

  21. Linda Neighborgall on September 12th, 2012 12:27 pm

    On the contrary, incognito, I and others like me, who do not have kids in FCCPS, nonetheless do have family members in schools in neighboring jurisdictions. We are aware in some detail that they are using IT creatively and to great effect. My experience teaching ESOL (and in learning languages myself) has been much enhanced by using technology. I worked in a profession that was revolutionized by the ever-increasing variety of technology support.

    During this whole round of discussions about school technology, I know of no person who does not appreciate that using technology to enhance learning is both necessary and beneficial and who would suggest short-changing the schools.

    That’s not the point. The issues being raised go to parental responsibility to equip students for school; the need to make certain that students from less well-off families have access to the technology they need; long-term planning for the least costly and most effective way to meet IT needs; the budgetary priorities as between FCCPS and the rest of the city, particularly given indications that our property taxes are about to cross the line from near-confiscatory to outright confiscatory; and the need for greater transparency and accountability to the taxpayers for how and why and when public funds are accumulated, held, and spent.

    It’s simply wrong to view raising these kinds of questions as tantamount to showing ignorance or taking an anti-school-technology stance. I can see the utility of avoiding addressing these matters as a tool for avoiding the harder questions and enforcing an us-versus-them mindset of those who believe that the main reason for FC to exist as an independent city is to support a school system. That may have been true at the city’s inception, but it cannot be true now, when the needs of the rest of the city are so pressing.

  22. Lou Mauro on September 12th, 2012 1:50 pm

    Outstanding, Linda. If only our City Council and School Board members, and their constituencies, could free themselves from petty bureaucratic and personal disputes and be so trenchant.

  23. mel watson on September 12th, 2012 2:58 pm

    Absolutely right on point, Linda…you have said it more elegantly than I have and have hit the nail on the head. Well stated.

  24. jbb Falls Church City on September 12th, 2012 4:59 pm

    Well stated Linda… right on.

  25. Jen Falls Church City on September 12th, 2012 5:11 pm

    Was Superintendent Jones recently appointed as chairperson to the Commonwealth of Virginia IT development council for the schools?

    With the current funding, she will have her district as an example of the progress teachers and students can attain.

  26. Hillel Weinberg, Falls Church on September 13th, 2012 1:28 pm

    The Division’s technology plan says “Falls Church City Public Schools has a technology equipment replacement and purchase plan funded by an annual base budget (state and local) that provides for a five-year replacement cycle for desktops and a three-year cycle for laptops, for all technology equipment and for the additional hardware (including network infrastructure) needed for increasing numbers of students and staff members.” http://www.fccps.org/board/reports/TechPlan_FY2012-16.pdf, at page 23.

    I guess that all became, as they used to say, “non-operative”. When? Where? How?

  27. incognito on September 13th, 2012 7:33 pm

    Linda Neighborgall, I concede that everything you said is true.

    I also stand by my suggestion that if you really want to know how the computers are used you ought to visit the schools. Several people have made misstatements regarding how computers are used or ought to be used in our schools, yet everyone has the option of going to the schools to observe and get information.

    By the way, I’m not accusing you or anyone else of anything more than not necessarily having all the information you might need before expressing an informed opinion.

  28. Jim Bledsoe Falls Church on September 14th, 2012 2:26 am

    Thank you, Hillel Weinberg for providing the link to the FCCPS Strategic Technology Plan. In the Superintendents and the School Boards quest for their share of the surplus dollars, I have never seen them make any connection to spending $700,000 dollars on technology that tied to their Strategic Technology Plan (STP) for 2012 to 2016. I did however read in the FCNP from the school board in justifying the purchase that books in backpacks are heavy. What I read in the STP was an opinion from all schools that ‘most participants felt that hardware and software provided were adequate for their needs’. I have yet to hear from the Superintendent or the School Board if these 1200 devices will replace the hundreds of existing computers available at the schools or if they will just add to the total that are apparently adequate. The skeptics in the crowd just want facts in which to anchor an opinion. The basis of need provided, in relation to higher priority City needs and pending tax increases isn’t good enough. Sometimes I feel that people think this is a game removed from the real world. Do we have a strategic plan for technology in the schools or don’t we? I don’t think we do. I think we have a bunch of empire builders more concerned with getting their share of a surplus and their name in Newsweek magazine. Apparently there is no regard of the impact of perceived entitlement on the community as a whole. One thing I can assure Dr. Jones and the School Board, the skeptics read more than the followers.

  29. Gordon Theisz, Falls Church on September 14th, 2012 8:31 am

    Back in August, the schools put out a technology FAQ section on their website:


    This site provides the FCCPS’ perspective to a lot of the questions that are asked on FCT comments.

  30. jbb Falls Church City on September 14th, 2012 3:51 pm

    Thanks Gordon for the above link…very informative.

    Wonder if parents/ students/ residents could benefit also and get the Apple “special” purchase rate. I’d love to have an iPad!!

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