WESTERLY — Chromebooks, a backup generator and the high school fields are the top three priorities in Superintendent Roy Seitsinger Jr.’s 2015 capital improvement request for the Westerly Public Schools.
The town and school district work together on capital requests, which next go to the Westerly Planning Board.
“We acknowledge and respect the support of the entire Westerly community for their expectation and pride in having a great school district,” Seitsinger said. “Setting capital improvement priorities is one of several ways we move on those community expectations.”
Seitsinger said officials looked at the district’s priorities and student’s needs with respect to technology, safety and the future goals of the school system when compiling the list, which School Committee members concurred with at their meeting last week.
The Chromebook, the top priority, is a laptop or notebook computer that runs on Google’s Chrome operating system. They would be given to every student in grades five and nine, Seitsinger said, and cost about $180,000. The Chromebooks would tie into the district’s efforts to move to a “1:1 student infusion of technology,” Seitsinger said. The computers would also meet the requirements of mandatory PARCC testing. PARCC — the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers — is a 19-state consortium working to develop K-12 assessments in English and mathematics.
The PARCC assessments, which coincide with the new Common Core State Standards, will be administered during the 2014-15 school year.
The generator, estimated to cost about $50,000, would serve as a backup for the high school, and the cost would be offset using money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, officials said.
Seitsinger also put a high priority on $70,000 for engineering services for development of plans for artificial turf for the football field and lacrosse-practice field located on the quad.
Other projects ranked on Seitsinger’s list of 13 include new school buses, parking and traffic flow improvements at Springbrook Elementary School, school furniture and new high school gym bleachers.
In a letter to the planning board with the attached list of capital requests for both schools and the town, Seitsinger and interim town manager Michelle Buck highlighted the cooperative efforts of the town and school district.
“As the town and the school continue the efforts to work together to maximize value for the citizens of Westerly,” they wrote, “we found that many request and projects provide a benefit to both organizations and requires efforts and assistance from both to accomplish particular projects. There are many valid needs, but we understand funds are limited.”
Capital requests are not “segregated by department, school or town,” Seitsinger and Buck wrote. “It is organized by type, infrastructure, technology, equipment, and vehicles. We need to look at ourselves as one organization with a mission to meet the needs and priorities of the community.”
Town capital improvement requests include the installation of a fiber optic ring that would run between the town and school and encompass most of the downtown district.
The installation of a fiber optic ring would provide opportunities for both the town and schools to share computer servers and other technology.
Downtown nonprofits like the YMCA and library would be able to take advantage of the technology, as well.
The fiber optic installation would also serve as a platform for downtown cameras and free Wi-Fi in the park and downtown district.