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ABOE approves tech dollars, hears request

Posted: Friday, Nov 9th, 2012

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — In a blanket motion, the Alamosa Board of Education (ABOE) moved to provide $17,954 to complete art and music room technology at Alamosa Elementary (AE) on Monday night.

When AE was constructed, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) provisioned $492,000 for technology, according to a ABOE report from Scott Schweizer, director of technology. The money was to be spent on a wired data network, wireless data network, a phone system, classroom technology and security systems.

According to Schweizer, the district’s technology department installed the systems to “stretch the budget as far as possible” and eventually found itself underfunded, forcing the school’s art and music rooms to remain unfinished.

“Now we could actually finish what we started,” said Alamosa School District Superintendent Rob Alejo when explaining the situation to the BOE.

The additional funding will come from the $2.2 million generated from the former Boyd Elementary and Evans Elementary sales since the cost was not budgeted for the 2012-2013 school year.

There are six AE classrooms that remain without technology: K-2 music, art and music and art, and 3-5 music, band and art.

The per room costs include $1,157 for projection; $849 for sound; $1,186 for an interactive white board; $379 for a document camera; $200 for wiring and $200 for electrical installation.

Garden program seeks funding

A lack of funds could contribute to a lack of gardening at AE.

The BOE heard an Alamosa Community Gardens (ACG) request for $10,000 to keep the program in motion and growing in the right direction on Monday night.

“We are providing lessons and education to students of Alamosa for little or nothing,” said ACG coordinator Meghan Ibach. “We really have developed a cutting edge program. We are dedicated to growing the new school garden and continuing the education program.”

The ACG has worked with the district for the last 14 years and in the past two years has amplified its efforts. It has introduced an interactive curriculum that incorporates Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) subjects that have been requested. The $10,000 would support the ongoing efforts, the ACG staff to teach sixth graders garden and nutrition science and secure other grant monies moving into the future.

“We can longer do this for free,” Ibach said. “We are having a hard time keeping the program afloat.”

In 2012, Ibach and her ACG team saw 946 students in the classroom and outside in the garden in the spring, provided hands-on gardening lessons to all sixth grader summer school students, coordinated the Stone Soup event, began a new series of LEED lessons and spent over 1,000 hours preparing and teaching lessons, securing school garden funding like the new garden beds installed earlier this month and helping with school events.

Ibach said ACG is pursuing a $50,000 greenhouse grant for the AE site, but worries the lack of other funding could bring the project to a halt.

“We can’t guarantee the staff stability,” she said. “We want a year round greenhouse to teach garden science and nutrition, but without this program being supported, I don’t see it happening.”

The BOE did not make a decision on the funding Monday night and did not mention whether the request would appear on a future agenda.

According to reports, school gardens have been shown to improve test scores, student discipline and attendance. They also connect students to the tangible world and teach invaluable skills.

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