Update to Technology For School District Proves to Be Costly

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On any other day, DeWitt High School student Austin Howard would be relaxing during his summer vacation. Wednesday was not one of those days. Along with other student and parent volunteers, Howard was in a classroom opening boxes and setting up new computers the school district purchased. For Austin, it was a nice trade off.

"A lot of classroom activities we weren't able to do on the older hardware," said Howard. "So now with the newer change, we'll be able to get a lot more things done, and be able to do them a lot faster."

The decision for the technology upgrade came after the school board approved the 2007-08 budget. More than 100 volunteers plugged in computers, including Bruce Umpstead, the Michigan Department of Education's Technology Director.

"The challenge that DeWitt faces is that they are a district that just receives a foundation allowance," said Umpstead. "It has to find money of the foundation allowance to pay for these computers. It's a big investment."

Close to 600 computers are being installed within the DeWitt Public Schools. It'll cost $0.5 million, which they'll pay over four years from their general fund.

"What we had to do was to make some other budget cuts that were very difficult-- in terms of reducing teaching staff, reducing some program offerings," said DeWitt Superintendent Tina Templin. "But because we believe technology is so essential to our kids and to the instruction of the curriculum that we have from the state now, we feel we must make that commitment."

A tough decision, and students like Austin-- are thanking the district for the investment.

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