Last month, WCEF announced that an anonymous donor has given Las Lomas High School a $200,000 donation.
The donor requested that the money be spent within the next year and go towards new technology.
The contribution comes on the tail of the recently passed Measure E bond, which granted the Acalanes Union High School District six million dollars over the next two years.
Each of the district’s four high schools will receive $200,000 per year. According to a Las Lomas administrator, Las Lomas is temporarily placing aside its Measure E funds in order to focus on spending the donated money.
Staff members have expressed enormous gratitude for the generosity of the community.
“I think it’s phenomenal,” said technology coordinator and history teacher Andy Briggs. “I think we are incredibly lucky to have a community that cares. I love technology. I think it has great potential for our education, and I am glad we have a community that sees that.”
Students also express their gratitude for the liberal donation.
“I think it is great,” said senior Curtis Bowden. “It is in a time that it is needed.”
Both the technology committee—made up of Las Lomas teachers, administrators, parents, and students—and the head of each Las Lomas department will be responsible for allocating the funds, said a Las Lomas Administrator.
In January 2011, the Las Lomas technology committee approved the Las Lomas Technology Plan, which outlines the goals and plans for the manner in which Measure E funds will be spent. Because the donated money must be spent on technology, many tenets of the plan will carry over. Among the plan’s specific and quantitative goals are raising the proficiency of Geometry and Algebra I & II students on the 2012 California Standards Tests, increasing the scores of students on the 2012 CAHSEE by five percent, raising the CELDT level scores of ELD students by at least one level per year and increasing eleventh-grade students’ proficiencies on the 2012 English-Language Arts CST.
“The purpose of teacher and student usage of technology is to improve 21st century skills and assessments,” reads the technology plan. “Technology should be student-centered.”
Ultimately, the plan aims to produce graduating students who “possess the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to succeed in a global society.”
Several technological devices and improvements have already been made and purchased.
“The library now has 36 iPads, 36 laptops and 36 FlipCams available for student and classroom use,” said librarian Joan Wheeler.
Upgrades to facilities include an improved wireless networking system that has been installed on campus, and projectors and screens have been installed in every classroom, according to Briggs.
Senior Cleary Bayless expresses her optimism over the future of education.
“I think it’s pretty cool and I think it will help the school out a lot,” said Bayless. “I think it will make the way people learn more efficient.”
However, some students are skeptical of technology’s usefulness to student learning.
“I think it’s very generous, but there is a limit on how much technology can do,” said junior Robert Watchmaker. “[The donation] should be used to improve systems that we use more, like the PA system.”
Junior Danielle Johnson also expresses concern.
“That’s really generous, but we really don’t need more technology,” said Johnson.
According to principal Matt Campbell, the school’s main goal is to get technology into the hands of the students and give teachers technological training.
Briggs holds that Las Lomas is incredibly fortunate to have such privileges and resources.
“I have friends in other districts who have nothing,” said Briggs. “We’re absolutely blessed.”
While the benefits of having technology funding are numerous, challenges abound as well.
“Education and society have programmed us to do the same things over and over, and so far the results have been excellent,” said Campbell. “But we need to make it okay for teachers to use technology in the classroom. That comes with a lot of discussion, a lot of teacher training, and it won’t be easy.”
Assistant principal Ruth Steele outlines several practical challenges as well.
“Maintaining the technology is one thing,” said Steele. “The devices need to be updated and repaired. Theft is another. We need to have a secure place to store the devices. If a student takes an iPad home, for example, that’s a problem.”