Buchanan Schools say bond issue is a necessity

failing infrastructure, buildings

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By Ryan Klund - rklund@abc57.com

BUCHANAN, Mich. - Technology infrastructure is getting worse in Buchanan Schools’ classrooms and the district is hoping voters offer Band-Aid.

On February 28th voters will decide to approve or deny a $19 million bond issue for technology and building upgrades at the schools. A $31 million bond failed with voters in May 2011.
Just a quick look inside a sixth grade science classroom at Buchanan Middle School and you begin to see the problem. Each student has a laptop, but the building’s infrastructure can hardly handle it.
Each classroom only has a few power outlets to power every computer. It’s not uncommon to see extension cords running between classrooms in the one-room-school.
“We need to update the infrastructure,” said Jim Brohman, a 7th grade social studies teacher. The internet has made expanded teaching possibilities in his classroom but it’s been difficult to utilize it at the middle school. “There (are) a lot of things you can do but we can’t because our infrastructure can’t handle it,” he said
To keep Buchanan Middle School’s computer server from crashing, only two classrooms can be online at the same time. Brohman said it can’t be that way forever. “The state is going to require every class to do our MEAP tests online which means we’re going to have the whole school at once online during the test and (currently) we can’t.”
“This is a necessity for our district,” said Andrea van der Laan, Buchanan Schools’ Superintendent. She hopes the current proposal convinces enough people to support the schools. In May, the bond proposal lost by less than 300 votes.   
The cost has been cut back in the current proposal focusing on the highest priority needs. The bond calls for technology and infrastructure at all schools in the district and building upgrades at the middle school and Ottawa Elementary.
This time van der Laan said a community survey was given along with tours of the schools.“So they can actually come in and see it in their own eyes,” she said. “Sometimes that tells the story by itself.”
Brohman isn’t shy about how he feels. “We need to have this bond issue passed to bring this school back to the 21st century,” he said.
If nothing happens, Brohman is worried the schools might be left behind. “(Technology) is the wave of the future,” he said. “It’s going to happen whether you’re ready or not. Technology isn’t going to wait for us.”
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