GROTON -- The Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee stepped back from demands for more money to pay for technology upgrades in the schools, reducing the amount they had been seeking by almost $300,000.
On Wednesday night, members were told by the administration that a warrant article proposed for upcoming town meetings in Groton and Dunstable seeking $700,955 in addition to the regular operating budget would be reduced to just over $500,000.
That amount, said Accountability Director Kerry Clery, would serve to purchase basic classroom technology for students and teachers and bring the district up to par with what was needed, but not more.
Committee Chairman Allison Manugian characterized the new figure as a "minimal" infusion of cash that would only get the district to the starting line.
Manugian said it was needed to provide students with the basic tools to "function" in an increasingly technological world.
"We're not only standing still, we're going backwards," said member James Frey. "This will at least get us to the point where we have the capability."
Frey said more demands were being placed on the district by government programs to introduce technology at all grade levels, what he characterized as "unfunded mandates."
"But it's consistent with the direction education is moving," said Frey, insisting that the School Committee find a way to support the administration's request.
The School Committee and district
Also Wednesday, School Committee members heard from three administrators about ongoing efforts to implement new educational requirements being placed on the district as a result of the federal and state-sponsored common-core standards.
Covered at the meeting were goals and assessment criteria covering English, science, and social studies, which come under the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
PARCC is a consortium of 22 states working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English and mathematics to help prepare students for college and employment. The new assessments are expected to build a pathway to career readiness by the time students graduate from high school while tracking their progress from grades 3 and up.
"This is monumental change," said high-school Principal Michael Mastrullo of the program.
According to Kelly Cook, who informed the committee of the program, PARCC and the common-core requirements are still in transition in the district, with previous programs such as No Child Left Behind Act still in effect.
The state's requirements brought about by education reform also still exist but have partially served as the basis for PARCC goals and are not expected to contradict them.
The School Committee also:
* Voted to accept a bid by Worcester-based Greenwood Industries for repair of the middle school roof. The company's bid came in the lowest of a dozen at $942,000, which will represent a savings for the district, which had planned to spend more for the work. According to Gerry Martin, the district's director of business and finance, work on the roof is due to begin in June and would be complete before the start of the next school year.
* Voted to approve a number of field trips by district sports teams, including those for baseball, lacross and softball. All will be heading to Cape Cod to play scrimmage games with other teams over March 22-24.