By Chris McGuinness
Killeen Daily Herald
Copperas Cove Independent School District schools could lose most, if not all, of their technology specialists if proposed staff reductions happen next school year.
A preliminary budget plan shows that eliminating 57 total staff positions would save about $1 million.
School district officials are proposing the job cuts to offset a projected $4 million shortfall in funding next year.
On school campuses, the specialists help teachers integrate technology into their classes and curriculum as well as provide training and professional development.
While school officials did not reveal the exact number of specialists employed at schools, the district's website lists eight people with that job title at 10 campuses, including Copperas Cove High School and two junior high schools. The website showed that House Creek Elementary and Mae Stevens Elementary share one specialist.
"From what I have seen, these folks are the 'boots on the ground' in the schools when it comes to making sure (teachers and students) can come in and use the computers and other equipment," said Jeff Gorres, a school district volunteer and parent. "I would say that they play an active role in make sure the technology is being used to benefit the instruction going on in the class."
The school district has made a point of trying to provide students with a 21st century education by offering a variety of technology resources. It has purchased everything from laptops and computers for students and teachers to the acquisition of digital "Mimio" boards and tablets for some classrooms.
In 2009, the school board approved a long-term technology plan, which outlined goals and initiatives between 2010 and 2013. It includes detailed steps to increase the use and literacy of technology in classrooms, with the technology specialists integral to accomplishing all major goals.
"It's very worrying, because (CCISD) has really pushed to get this technology into classrooms," said Gorres, who has been a vocal advocate against the proposed staff cuts. "It's great to have all this wonderful technology, but if there's no one around to show students and teachers the best way to use it, then you have a problem."
School officials declined a request for an interview about the possible elimination of the technology specialist positions and their duties.
But Katie Rudesheim, spokesperson for the school district, released this statement: "Unfortunately we are facing a difficult financial situation in terms of state funding. As a result, we are tasked with making programmatic changes in an effort to continue operating efficiently with drastically reduced resources."
Gorres wants the school board and the superintendent to reconsider cutting the specialist positions as well as the other proposed job cuts.
"I'd invite anyone to go into these schools and see what they do because there's real value there," said Gorres. "When you cut staff like this, you're putting a whole lot more work and stress on people that are probably maxed out already."
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568.