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Technology problems frustrating District 427

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

SYCAMORE – Technology problems throughout Sycamore School District 427 spurred teachers and students to ask the board and administrators Tuesday to find a quick solution to a yearlong issue that has threatened the education experience.

Network problems that have prevented students from saving and working on assignments, emailing teachers and even printing out documents have plagued the district for the first six weeks of the school year and are now compromising the curriculum, said high school teacher Stephanie Swineheart.

Swineheart said it is unacceptable for a district the size of Sycamore’s to go months without technology as it affects everything from teacher communication with administration and parents to students’ ability to complete daily homework or important college essays.

“This technology fiasco cannot continue,” she said. “We need concrete solutions.”

Swineheart was also critical of administrators slow response as staff just received an update on the technology problems Oct. 3 and have not been part of the discussion about solutions.

Superintendent Kathy Countryman apologized for the continued problems and said there would be more communication along with staff input moving forward. She said the district prides itself on communication and maintaining trust.

“That is something we are going to have to regain from you as a staff,” she said.

Carol Meeks, president of the Sycamore Education Association, said it is a misuse of taxpayer dollars to spend on technology without assuring the equipment in place is working properly.

Meeks praised the teachers and students for making the best of a difficult situation, but said they should not be in that situation after technology problems started last school year and should have been addressed in the summer.

She said an SEA survey given to teachers before the school year showed 27 percent of teachers who responded were without working technology in their classroom.

Countryman said a significant amount of work was done over the weekend to improve the network and solve some of the main issues.

Countryman said there is more stability in the network, double the storage in email and a restoration of printing capabilities.

Some issues, such as saving work, still need to be resolved. She was hopeful the high school computer lab would be operational today.

Henry Johnson, a senior at Sycamore High School, spoke on behalf of students and gave examples of how not having technology has already prevented students from writing essays and beginning courses.

Students without computers at home, he said, are in a nearly impossible situation.

“If we don’t have technology it’s like being locked out of the classroom,” he said.

Board President Jim Dombek requested an update on technology issues at all future meetings and said a technology committee that would bring stakeholders together should be pursued.

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