The 2012 Tech Bond by the numbers

By Tara Cavanaugh

On May 8, the Ann Arbor Public Schools is asking voters to approve a millage of more than $45 million for technology resources. If the Tech Bond is approved, the money wouldn’t be spent all at once. Instead, the detailed illustration below shows how the money would be used during a 10-year period. Note: The infographic was updated April 18.

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  1. Why is the tech bond being presented to voters in a special election, which must be paid for entirely by AAPS, when there are several upcoming elections that could have included the tech bond?

  2. Hi Janice,
That’s a good question. The district decided to hold the vote in a special election in May because the timing was most ideal.

    The two most recent elections were not ideal for a few reasons. The November 2011 election was a closed Republican primary, so it would have not provided access to all voters. The district did not feel it had presented all necessary information the public by the time of the February election.

    If voters approve the millage in May, work on the schools can begin this summer. So the district did not want to wait until the general election in November.

    Thank you for reading the AAPS News. Please let me know if you have any more questions.

    Tara Cavanaugh
    AAPS News Editor

  3. I apologize for not being engaged before this. I want to simply add the following important comment:

    I fully support the schools engaging in technology. I am not willing, however, to support any technology program that lacks a commitment to using free/libre/open-source software. LibreOffice, for example, is not only up-to-date and adequate for the vast majority of school uses, but costs nothing and provides complete freedom for how it is run. The same $ thrown at Microsoft and Apple with their restrictions could be given to support services and developers who can help the schools make the most of open-source options.

    The issues are of long-term concern. By getting students comfortable with free open-source options, they are free later. Otherwise, the system is tying them into proprietary systems. By continuing to be slave to Apple and Microsoft’s licensing, it will be ever harder to shift directions later. This is not just about dollars, its about ethical education and freedom.

    Practically, a shift to free/open-source software cannot be 100% or done dogmatically, but there needs to be a commitment to utilize these resources as much as possible. Without that, I will not support this expensive technology millage.

  4. Aaron – I sympathize with your feelings about open source software, but you have to remember that some of the major uses of tech in the classroom have nothing to do with productivity software. At the elementary level, computers are a major instructional tool, and also offer compensatory instruction or enrichment – all using specialized software.

    There is a lot of open source software that runs on Mac OS/Darwin, and I imagine that once the district has shifted entirely to Intel-based Macs (right now, most desktops are still PowerPC machines), they’ll be taking a serious look at open source alternatives. The bond can be used to purchase software bundled with the computers, but subsequent software may not be purchased with the bond or sinking fund – in other words, it uses scarce operating budget dollars. I’m sure that teachers and administrators will be very interested in any kind of software that helps them achieve their mission.

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