GROTON -- In a surprise announcement made at the Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee meeting held Feb. 13, long time member Berta Erickson said that she was resigning from the group.
In a statement to the committee, Erickson said she made the decision based on reasons of health and timing. It would allow anyone interested in succeeding her to gather signatures and submit nomination papers with the Town Clerk ahead of Groton's April 30 election day.
Erickson complimented her fellow committee members when she said that she hoped whoever chose to run would be of the "same calibre" as they were.
Erickson concluded her remarks with an appreciative "Thanks for the ride!"
A resident of Boston Road, Erickson was first appointed to the School Committee in 2005 to fill out the term of former member Jeanne Niemoller. After that, she ran on her own merit and won a first term with the School Committee in 2006.
Since then, citing unfinished business, Erickson ran twice more, most recently when she won reelection to a three-year term in 2012.
She was a leading voice on the School Committee, always keeping her eye on the welfare of students while keeping her feet firmly grounded. Erickson came up with the idea of creating a "think tank" charged with coming up with new ways of raising revenue for the district.
"This is a big surprise to me," commented James Frey, who served as chairman for much of Erickson's time on the School Committee. "I've very much grown to appreciate (Berta's) viewpoint.
Frey added that he hoped someone with the same kind of dedication would take her place.
Also at the Feb. 13 meeting, committee members continued to hear about the status of technology in the district as consultants Patricia Roberts and Robert Cornacchioli presented their findings after conducting an audit of the schools' computer systems.
Although interim superintendent Anthony Bent opened the briefing by saying that the district was "lagging behind" other school systems in the area of technology, Roberts was less pessimistic.
"I left with a very, very positive feeling," Roberts said of her conclusions.
In reviewing their methods of investigation, the consultants said they went through the district's documentary record as well as conducted interviews with administrators, teachers, and students, and toured the facilities.
What they found was "an apparent disconnect between the various parties within the district" that required the creation of a long range technology plan that would provide a clear vision and timeline for updating and maintaining district wide networks, equipment, and software.
Of particular concern to the consultants was the lack of proper bandwidth for wireless communications. The district's current set-up was "slow or inadequate."
Also "inadequate," was the schools' inventory of equipment from desk top computers to Ipads, and "hand held devices."
"The deficiency of electronic learning tools hampers curriculum development and implementation of courses for students to achieve the necessary knowledge and skills for success in college and careers," concluded the audit.
The report also congratulated the district in its plan to pursue a special appropriation of nearly $800,000 over and above its proposed budget for 2014 (which in itself will increase over 2013) earmarked specifically for technology.
However, discussion later in the meeting about the special appropriation, which will have to be voted on by residents at town meeting, indicated a lack of support for the measure among committee members.
Led by John Giger, those expressing doubts about the measure indicated a lack of planning regarding the expansion of technology in the district as the main reason for not supporting it at present.