Montgomery County Council to hold hearing on school technology funds -- Gazette.Net


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The Montgomery County Council will hold a public hearing next week regarding a request from the school system for $2 million in technology funding, as an appropriation to the fiscal 2013 budget.

The hearing will take place at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, in the council hearing room in the council building at 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville.

The funds will pay for Promethean boards, high-tech whiteboards that are connected to computers and give students new ways to interact with their lessons, and for new or upgraded wireless networking equipment, software and services.

Superintendent Joshua P. Starr and the Montgomery County Board of Education will ask for a total of $14.5 million over five years for 2,000 Promethean boards for all elementary classrooms and $5.6 million for wireless networking in all schools.

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) recommended in an Oct. 11 letter to the county council that the council approve the request, although he said several issues need to be addressed.

He said that the creator of Promethean boards, Promethean World, is struggling financially, citing that the company saw a 90 percent drop in stock valuations in three months.

“I am concerned that MCPS’ investment of taxpayer dollars into these whiteboards may not be viable or sustainable in the long term due to the company’s significant and, by the company’s own assessment, long-term, financial difficulties,” Leggett wrote.

Leggett wrote he also is concerned with the school system’s financing method for the boards; if the technology will be obsolete “before we finish paying for it”; and if the school system looked into all technology options.