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Schools await technology funds

Federal grants are in limbo amid state budget negotiations.

July 20, 2010|By Max Zimbert,

Glendale and Burbank unified school districts were awarded a combined $214,000 to expand technology in the classroom, but officials said they need much more to see any significant impact.

Both districts are in a holding pattern until the remaining $37 million in federal grants can be released. If they can snag a larger share of that money, it would allow for more advanced programs, officials said.

The funding is stuck in budget negotiations between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature, according to the California Department of Education.


Burbank Unified got $42,360 and Glendale Unified was awarded $171,780 in the first round of funding, which is largely determined by district size.

"It's minimal, but every little bit helps," said Rick Vonk, the technology services manager for Burbank Unified. "We're hoping to get the other funds because that would be of greater impact to the students."

The initial funding will allow technology staff at each Burbank Unified campus to train teachers with emerging technologies, Vonk said.

The money will also introduce new ways technology can be used to help meet state standards in academic subjects — one way the district can meet the state goal that all students be technologically literate before ninth grade.

"It is a challenge, but that's where the funds come in," Vonk said. "[Educational services staff] are focusing on grades four to eight, to focus on technology and get kids more literate in all aspects."

In Glendale Unified, Frank Schlueter, director of education technology and information services, said the $171,000 will either provide new hardware for students, staff development or training for parents to access academic information through the Web.

"The intent of those funds is to improve student achievement through technology," he said.

Schlueter said the district's $3-million competitive grant could narrow the academic achievement gap for students who aren't fluent in English.

The district would buy iPod Touches for English language learners, which Schlueter said would be useful reading and speaking devices. They would also help students master pronunciation, a critical component, he added.

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