Friday, June 29, 2012

Exciting News and an Apology!

First, let me begin with an apology: I have broken a primary rule of blogging- Never leave a blog idle for several months; this is a sure-fire way to lose readers (however many there may be). So, I sincerely apologize for staying away for too long and pledge to do a better job during 12-13 with blog updates.

Now, on to the exciting news...

Many of you may be aware of the fact that the district has moved forward with the installation of a professional grade wireless network district-wide. This has allowed us to also move other technology based initiatives forward pending available funds. The exciting news comes in the form of some higher than expected revenues and lower than expected expenditures resulting in the availability of funds to be used for various district initiatives. In addition, the community approved a referendum in the fall of 2010 providing the district access to some additional funds. All of these factors came together this year to create an advantageous situation in which we could accomplish some district goals and meet community and student expectations. In this very blog, you can scroll down and see the posts regarding "creating a vision" as well as some older posts regarding what we wanted to accomplish with referendum dollars; in both cases there are multiple references to technology for student use and infrastructure improvements.

With that said, the district was able to purchase 100 laptop computers on 4 carts to be used at all levels, totally update the elementary computer lab, and purchase ipads for all staff members which can be used in an inter-active manner with the existing SMART boards installed in nearly every classroom. These additions will help move us closer to our goals of creating a 21st century school with ubiquitous access to technology for students and staff.

Where did this money come from? First off, we had nearly $65,000.00 in revenues which were truly not expected; approximately $30,000 came in the form of SBS payments from the federal government from the last few years (07-10) which is reimbursement for expenses incurred by the district involving medicaid over that time period. The other $35,000.00 came in the form of a transfer from the district's section 125 account back to our fund 10. This transfer is a result of accruing employee payments for health care premiums and other 125 eligible expenses into the 125 account which the district then reimburses itself for. In addition to these revenues, the district also saw a huge reduction in our LP budget due to the mild winter resulting in an additional $34,000.00. These factors came together and allowed us to move forward on these technology purchases.

This could not have happened at a better time as many districts (including those neighboring Prairie Farm) are moving to 1 to 1 computing models where every student is supplied with some form of computer. We were not able to move in that direction fully at this time, but have taken steps to get us there over the next 2-3 years. It should also be noted that we are making progress on nearly every item discussed in the referendum meetings and will have very positive news to share regarding that progress when we once again ask voters to approve a new referendum in the fall of 2013 to be levied beginning with the 2014-2015 school year when both of our current referenda expire.

Again, I apologize for the blog being silent as long as it was. Thank you for your support and encouragement as we strive to make Prairie Farm the best district in western Wisconsin.

Please feel free to contact me at any time with questions.

Craig Broeren
715-455-1683 ext. 119