New Rochelle Schools Cry Poor While Rolling Out New “Laptops for Everyone” Program

Written By: Robert Cox

dellnetbook.jpg Christmas came early for 110 fifth graders at Jefferson Elementary School courtesy of Santa Claus New Rochelle taxpayers. After weeks of claiming that this year’s school budget is a “maintenance program” that keeps spending flat (by increasing it by $8,000,000), the City School District of New Rochelle has begun rolling out an OFF-BUDGET program to provide 110 brand new Dell Inspiron Mini laptops to every fifth grader for free. Talk about a good way to buy some school budget votes with taxpayer money! The sounds like about 200 votes right there from some very contented parents.

Somehow, with a budget supposedly cut to the bone, the district has now managed to come up with $39,000 to purchase 110 laptops for every 5th grader at Jefferson Elementary School and has plans to expand the program to every public elementary school in the City. For 1,000 elementary school students this program will end up costing somewhere between $300,000 and $500,000.

Neither the 2008-09 or 2009-10 budget mention the so-called “5th Grade 1:1 Laptop Initiative” raising questions about how many similar OFF-BUDGET programs are being snuck into the heavily padded “maintenance budget”. I was the school board meeting at Jefferson School a few months ago where IT Director Christine Coleman presented to the board. I recall her spending a great deal of time talking about the dangers of Facebook and “sexting” and nothing about a new laptop give-away program.

In past years the District has claimed that students at the high school need to have access to expensive computing technology in order to prepare for college or the workplace. Once the computers were in place the district claimed that to prepare middle school students to use all that technology at the high school they need to have lots of computers at the two middle school nows. With that accomplished the district is now looking to apply the same argument to further expanding technology spending into the elementary school where students already have access to at least one computer in every classroom, extremely expensive projection screen displays in every class (“smartboards”).

“What we’re looking to do is bridge the gaps for these fifth-grade students who are going into sixth grade at middle schools that are already rich in technology,” said Christine Coleman, the district’s technology director.

If you apply the district’s logic here then there is no reason to stop at 5th grade students and you can see where this is headed – giving away computers to every student.

Why is this give-away of taxpayer funded computing technology not being needs-tested? Surely some of these students comes from families that COULD afford the $300 to purchase the device?

Would it not be more cost effective to simply require every student in New Rochelle public schools purchase a laptop and then give families several options: (1) buy a new high-end laptop; (2) buy a high-end but used laptop; (3) buy through the school which could purchase in bulk and thereby offer a large discount; (4) offer parents the option to purchase or lease a computer through a district sponsored program. Once you have thus identified all the students who cannot otherwise afford a laptop you offer them a free or subsidized Dell Inspiron Minis. “Hot lunch” students might automatically be eligible for a fully subsidized device.

Let’s be clear on the money involved here. The preliminary 2009-10 budget calls for $4.7mm in spending just for INSTRUCTIONAL technology.

Let’s also look at the devices themselves. From the Dell website we get the following information:

Inspiron Mini 9

  • Connect with advanced wireless options
  • Light and compact for an on-the-go lifestyle
  • Dynamic & Customizable user interface
  • 4 hours battery life & just 2.28 lbs

CNET, a leading technology review web site, has a video review:

The always reliable District shill, Aman Ali shows how to lie with statistics:

The district appropriated about $39,000 from this year’s budget to give 110 Dell Inspiron Mini laptops to the students. Minis and similar laptops are surging in popularity across the country for their cost and mobility. A 9-inch laptop can retail for about $300.

Yes, a 9-inch laptop CAN retail for about $300 but the District is not buying “a 9-inch laptop” they are purchasing 110 Dell Inspiron Mini and they DO NOT retail for $300. The standard configuration for the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 is 1GB of RAM, a 16GB solid-state hard drive, and Windows XP. According to CNET, that configuration costs $514 which notes “you can get the Inspiron Mini 9 down to as low as $349 by opting for a smaller hard drive (4GB or 8GB), 512MB of RAM, an Ubuntu Linux OS, or knocking down the Webcam to a lower-resolution option.

The typical “netbook” style of laptop retails for about $550 not $300 and by significantly reducing the specs of the device it gets to $349.

In fact, the article says the District spent $39,000 on 110 laptops which average out to $354 per laptop which would take into account $349 for the low-end version of the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 plus some additional funds to run set up 3 or 4 $50 Wifi routers. So either the school got an educational discount and then applied that discount to purchasing 110 licenses for Windows XP or they opted for the geeky Ubuntu Linux OS instead of MS Windows. They are apparently not planning on spending anything on additional software and will rely on Google for free online word processor, spreadsheets and presentation software.

PC Magazine review

The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 falls well short of the MSI Wind and the HP 2133 Mini-Note because it doesn’t offer an extended battery and large-enough storage options. And you’ll have to punch in an E-Value code (1-DNDMXA1) to get this limited-time offer price of $399. Otherwise, the list price is the same as that of the Wind’ ($474).

As someone with more experience than anyone working for the district when it comes to technology let me point out three of the biggest problems with this new taxpayer-funded computer giveaway program other than the obvious one is that we are creating a new technology entitlement.

1. Computers require electricity. Let’s set aside that the district is claiming all sorts of cost savings by reducing electronic spending next year while planning to add 1,000 power-hungry new laptops to the school grid which will only INCREASE electricity consumption (now imagine 12,000 laptops). The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 advertises a battery life of 4 hours. Anyone who has used a laptop knows that computer manufactures always exaggerate this claim and that whatever battery life you get initially, that number always go down over time. tested a brand new Dell Inspiron Mini 9 and it ran for 3.4 hours. ran a similar test and it ran for 2.8 hours and took 2 hours to complete a full re-charge. I would expect that assuming normal usage, by the end of the year the battery will hold a charge for less than 2 hours. So, what does that mean as a practical matter? It means that with 110 laptops in the school, 20-25 laptops in a classroom, every single laptop will need to be re-charged at least once during the course of a 6 hour school day — and probably more than once — or each computer will need to be plugged in throughout the school day. That means that every classroom will need to be set up with extension cords and surge protectors which will need to be snaked around the classrooms. If not, that means that every few minutes a student will interrupt the class to announce that their laptop “died” and they will need to get up and plug it in and then wait two hours for it to be fully re-chraged to get another 3 hours use out of it. The batteries themselves are Lithium-Ion batteries which degrade quickly if they are fully-depleted before recharging which means that the batteries will hold a charge for less and less time over the course of the year.

2. Cloud Computing Requires Access to the Cloud Before proceeding I want to briefly touch on the idea of “cloud computing” which Christine Coleman has apparently deluded herself into imaging is some sort of panacea. Cloud Computing a fancy new term for a very old idea. In the olden days from the dawn of computers up until the rise of personal computers in the 1980s, all computing was down on central computers which were shared by multiple users and accessed via “dumb” terminals which had no significant storage or computer-procesisng power of their own. Personal computers changed all this by placing low-cost storage and processing power in the user’s device so that word processing or spreadsheet calculations could be done locally on the user’s personal computer In the past couple of years as Internet speeds have improved, there has been a trend back towards this older computing model. One example is that instead of installing Microsoft Office on a personal computer you access similar software (word processor, spreadsheet, etc.) from a central location where the user logs in to a central location. Google is one of many companies now offering this sort of service. For now, most of these services are offered at no charge as a way to hook users into using other services where the company can charge fees or sell ad space. Cheap, basic devices like the Dell Inspiron Mini are known as “netbooks” because they are designed as sort of modern versions of the old “dumb” terminals in that the primary use is to access other computers (web sites, email, etc.) and use computing services remotely over the “net”.

The Journal News article begins with a teacher asking his students to get out their laptops to “save their assignments on a Google document he set up for the class”. The school district is going to save money by using Google’s free word processor rather than pay a licensing fee to Microsoft. Let’s set aside the question of how the student’s were able to connect to Google’s web site when the same article ends by noting “The next phase of the Jefferson program will be to integrate the laptops on a new wireless network.” The always gullible Aman Ali perhaps forgot to ask how student’s were able to connect to Google when the school says it has not set up the wireless network through which students will access the Internet.

The district needs to install these WiFi routers because without them the Dell Inspiron Minis are basically expensive 2.2 pound bricks. Without Internet access, the students cannot open their files stored on Google or use the word processing software. It is possible to access Google files when offline using very new “beta” software called Google Gears but it is not software for novice users and certainly not for 5th graders. So what happens when a student goes home? If the home does not have high-speed Internet access then the student will not be able to access Google (well, they can on dial-up but it will be so painfully slow as to be largely unusable). So, for students without broadband Internet access they are not going to be able to access Google docs, shared documents, collaborate with other students or send/receive email until they get back to school.

3. Lots of users require lots of bandwidth WiFi routers and broadband Internet connections have a fixed capacity to handle uploads and downloads of data. The more simultaneous users on a network the more the “pipe” gets clogged and the slower the average connection speed for the users. The District is going to need sufficient capacity to handle peak loads which will occur between 8:30 am and 3:00 PM on school days. So, the District will building a system that initially can handle 110 simultaneous WiFi users for 6 hours a day for 180 days out of the year. For the remaining 18 hours a day for 180 days and 24 hours days for 185 days, the network will be significantly underutilized. I mention all this because the district is likely going to see to dismiss the concerns about power consumption, electrical cables and battery life by claiming that the laptops will not be in use the entire 6 hours of a a school day. Perhaps, but that only means that the network they need to build will get even less use. There is no free lunch here – either you need to build significantly underutilized network capacity for the few hours a day when it is needed to make the “netbooks” functional or you are going to be using them enough that drained batteries will require constant recharging.


I am sure other folks have other questions and I hope people will attend the next board meeting on April 21st to ask them. Everyone gets three minutes to talk and I am sure we can cover a lot of ground if a few people other than me will show up. We might then ask…

How is giving away free laptops to 5th graders going to “bridge” the “gaps” claimed the the school district? What “gap” and how is this a “bridge”? Can’t this gap be bridged using the 4,000 computers we already purchased by the District?

If the goal is to bridge some mythical gap that exists between elementary school kids and middle school kids then why give these computers to 5th graders in April? They have about 10 weeks left in elementary school so that these computers will all be leaving Jefferson in June and will all be over at Isaac Young Middle School where, according to Christine Coleman, the school is “already rich in technology”.

The district wants to compare the laptops to textbooks but unlike textbooks laptops have other uses besides typing school reports and can access the Internet from ANY network connection at home or elsewhere, so what steps are being taken to make sure school property is not being uses to engage in unlawful behavior such as using the devices to visit pornographic websites, engage in online gambling or otherwise being used by people other than the student once the laptops leave school grounds?

Why are we buying laptops for every 5th grader when a majority of families in New Rochelle already have computers at home at the school district owns 4,000 computers or more than 1 computer for every 3 students? Why is EVERY student getting a computer regardless of need?

Why have we invested millions in computer labs and projection displays only to now turn around and start giving away individual computers to every student?

Has the district consider the risk of running a story advertising the fact that every 5th grader at Jefferson School is carrying around a laptop in their backpack? It sounds like “open season” on these kids for gangbangers and assorted local hoodlums who will find 9 and 10 year old children carrying around hundreds of dollars in easily fenced computer technology a tempting target

What can students do now that they have laptops that they could not already do with the technology currently installed in their classrooms?

Why do students need laptops to write down their homework assignments?

Parents have signed a document taking “responsibility” for the laptops. What does that mean? For parents who can not afford a laptop today, what is going to happen if their child’s laptop is lost, stolen or damaged? If the parent cannot or will not pay to replace a laptop does the district plan to replace the laptop? If not, won’t that mean that as laptops drop out of service for various reasons that an increasing number of these 5th graders will not have laptops in class? This is not to mention students forgetting to bring them to school.

What happens at the end of the year, after kids have been banging these laptops around in their backpacks for 12 months – scratched screens, keyboards with soda and food in them, missing keys, chips, broken ports, etc. Who gets these “used” computers next year? How long are these netbooks expected to last with the kind of beating they will get after being dropped, kicked, made wet or otherwise abused by the 10 year old kids who are entrusted with these devices. I will make a prediction that more than half these computers will be out of service at some point during the year and more than 20% of them will either be “gone” or beyond repair at this time next April.

Teachers have been complaining for years that the District blocks a very large number of web sites rending the technology they have in their classroom virtually useless when it comes to access information on the web, how will giving each child their own personal laptop change that?

Please add additional questions in the comment section.

14 thoughts on “New Rochelle Schools Cry Poor While Rolling Out New “Laptops for Everyone” Program”

  1. I don’t think the 5th
    I don’t think the 5th graders should get laptops to take home. The laptops at Issac E. Young was an IBM Thinkpad I think; They look like they weren’t that expensive(one laptop) and at Columbus Magnet Elementary they had Mac laptops that I believe to be donated to the school by generous people. At Columbus they already had a computer in every classroom(supposedly) The parents should buy the laptops if they want and decide if they would let the child take the laptops to and from school. And signing a form/slip so if they accidentally break or lose the laptop they have to pay. That’s wasting the districts and the parents money. In Elementary/Middle school we didn’t get to use laptops like this, we only used laptops for research or projects in class and that’s it. What would the security be like on the laptop, firewalls, anti spam? there are was to load Linux to do inappropriate stuff on the laptop. The computer world made it easier to bypass stuff, would there play games while there on the laptop at school? How would the school get the extra money for security on the laptops; Good security is a most on the computers today; for good security on windows is expensive! I’m not saying that kids should go on the computer, its good to use the computer, so in the future they won’t be tech-savvy. They need to put that money in making the bandwidth larger at all schools because almost every time I use the computers at the school, they are always slow because everyone is logged on and using the internet and programs on it, yes I said programs; The programs are on the server which they display on the computer for the user the students, teachers, administrators, etc… use the client computer which gets the program off the server, thus makes it slow to even log on (for connecting to the server not the bandwidth); for the internet, that needs a lot of bandwidth, but they block most of the sites i.e They block that is the news for lower Hudson valley expect that if you type in you get to the site. Sorry if this sound more like a rant then a comment about fifth graders getting a laptop.

  2. 5th graders not mature
    5th graders not mature enough for laptops.

    Budgetary issues are clearly relevant here especially as the city adopts an “austerity budget”. However, I have another important concern. As a parent of a 5th grader (not at Jefferson but at another New Rochelle school), I don’t want my child to have her own computer at this point – despite her maturity for her age. I think 5th graders (10 and 11 year olds) don’t have the perspective or judgment to use them appropriately without strong parental supervision. We have a family computer that is in our family room; our children use it for homework and entertainment. The key point is that it is in a place where we can supervise the computer usage to 1) ensure our kids are not getting into trouble (we all know there’s plenty on the web to make a parent anxious these days); 2) ensure that they are doing work and not playing or emailing when appropriate, and 3) limit usage so they don’t spend hours emailing or playing on the web. We do not let them IM or download programs from the web, and periodically review their emails and sites browsed. If my child gets a laptop of her own, it becomes much harder for me to monitor usage. And by the way, my 5th grader’s main usage of computers for schoolwork so far has been either as a glorified typewriter or for basic research (i.e., as a glorified encyclopedia). If we didn’t have a computer, I would take my child to the New Rochelle public library to do this work as needed, which hasn’t been frequent (maybe once a month). Thus, I’m not sure why 5th grade was even selected as the grade to distribute the computers. If this program continues, I would suggest waiting until middle school, and I would want to ensure the computers came with parental monitoring programs.

    I am also interested in finding out where the funding for this program comes from. It is possible that it comes via a restricted grant, or maybe it did come from taxpayer funds. We just don’t know, and without this knowledge it is impossible to evaluate the merits of this program.

    1. The computers were ordered
      The computers were ordered on last year’s budget. It was also a grant.

      1. Besides “isolated incident”,
        Besides “isolated incident”, I think one of the district’s favorite catchphrases used to lie about runaway spending is “it’s a grant”.

        No. This was not a grant.

        Several people associated with the District have been spreading this lie in order to diffuse criticism of the district over the rather awkward appearance of telling cash-strapped New Rochelle residents that the budget is a “maintenance” budget with no new programs one day and then running a story in the Journal News about a new program to give away free laptops to 10 year olds the next.

        The computers are not IN the budget – last year, this year, next year or any year.

        If you were to read the Journal News article which quotes CSDNR IT Director Christine Coleman you would see that that District told the Journal News that the $39,000 used to purchase the laptops was appropriated from the budget.

        If you were to read any of the budget documents you would see that there is no mention of this program.

        If you had attended the school board meeting at Jefferson School this year you would know that Christine Coleman addressed the board in public session and spent her time talking about the dangers of Facebook, MySpace and “Sexting” without a word about the laptop giveaway.

        Otherwise, nice try using this site to spread more lies on behalf of the school district.

    2. You wrote: “I am also
      You wrote: “I am also interested in finding out where the funding for this program comes from. It is possible that it comes via a restricted grant, or maybe it did come from taxpayer funds. We just don’t know, and without this knowledge it is impossible to evaluate the merits of this program.”

      Actually, we do know. The article linked in the post states quite clearly that $39,000 was appropriated FROM THE BUDGET.

      This is program that was in the 2008-09 budget nor is it the 2009-10 budget.

      The article says this is a pilot program. The actual program is, for now, to roll out laptops for ALL 5th graders.

  3. This seems to be a good
    This seems to be a good investment and I would like to see it funded by cuts in other areas, grants, or the like. The transition between elementary and middle school is huge and most districts do not do enough to recognize and do transition planning. Many kids don’t do well academically or socially. Computers are used pretty extensively in middle schools and later, high school, and if properly presented as a learning aid and not a mindless video game provider, it should produce better results in research, lesson preparation and the like. Plus, I know the program people involved at Jefferson to some extent and they are skilled and motivated and very technologically adept. Program should be expanded, funds found for it in the current budget, augmented by grants, etc. and pushed through the system. warren gross

    1. Warren,
      With all due


      With all due respect, you are well-intentioned but tremendously uninformed. You have always struck me as someone who is concerned about getting it right so I would encourage you to do some research before endorsing this program.

      You might then find that questioning the wisdom of this particular program at this particular time has nothing to do with whether or not I support the general concept of more and better technology in the classroom. I am all for integrating technology into school curriculum. I work in the technology field, have consulted to major corporations and media companies, run technology startups, have served on advisory boards to private and parochial schools as well as consulted to post-secondary educational institutions. I dare say I have done more in this regard that just about anyone in New Rochelle including the people you know at Jefferson School.

      That you think it sounds wonderful and that you know some of the staff at Jefferson does not even begin to address the point of my post let alone rebut any of it. The question is not whether something productive can be done with these laptops but whether this new program is consistent with what the school district has been saying over the past month at the budget meetings. They have repeatedly emphasized that since the fall they have put a freeze on creating new positions, that they are not adding new programs or adding any new spending. The talk about how the budget has been cut to the bone. Yet the money for this program was hidden in the 2008-09 budget. The money to expand the program is obviously hidden in the 2009-10 budget because it is not mentioned at all. We already know that the budget is heavily padded to for this very purpose – to develop new spending programs without the knowledge of the community and create goodies and giveaways that benefit a small number of people which just so happens to create a small but active minority who then come out to vote for more and more taxes to pay for more and more “free” stuff.

      How can we trust anything the school district says when they tell us over and over again that the budget is a “bare bones” budget when time and again we are presented clear evidence that their is “buried treasure” secreted away throughout the budgets which voters are told must be passed for the sake of the children.

      This IS a new program, it does require new spending, it is not something that was in the budget last year or in the budget for next year, and there are many unaccounted for costs like bandwidth and electricity. I have not even mentioned tech support costs and the cost of paying staff such as Teacher Instructional Technology Facilitators and Technical Teaching Assistants assigned to Jefferson School (or other buildings as the program rolls out to all 5th grade students) none of which have been disclosed. To roll out this program to every fifth grader will cost somewhere between $300,000 and $500,000.

      This is discretionary spending for a luxury item at a time when New Rochelle residents are losing their jobs and homes and when New Rochelle businesses are going under. Walk down Main Street and look at the empty stores. Look at the listings of foreclosures in New Rochelle. Two-thirds of the taxes property owners pay goes to fund the school budget. Do you really believe now is the time time to pile on NEW costs and new programs to an already massively bloated budget and then jack up taxes even more to cover these costs?

      You wrote “This seems to be a good investment”. So let me ask about your background in technology and/or or education — do you feel competent to evaluate the cost and benefit of this program? If so, why?

      You wrote “I would like to see it funded by cuts in other areas, grants, or the like.”

      That’s great. And I would like to have a monkey that poops gold bricks. Now let’s deal with reality for a moment. This program is not being funded by cuts in other areas or grants. So where does that leave us? Another new spending program funded by ever increasing taxes on property, income, cell phones, and anything else the government can slap a sticker on.

      You wrote “The transition between elementary and middle school is huge and most districts do not do enough to recognize and do transition planning. Many kids don’t do well academically or socially. Computers are used pretty extensively in middle schools and later, high school.”

      This is a pile of non-sequiturs masquerading as a logical argument – how on earth do you think that giving 5th graders free laptops is going to improve their social skills in middle school? I see absolutely no connection between the two but if anything computers are often supposed to decrease socialization in children not increase it. As for improving academic performance, how will having a laptop alter whether or not a child can learn to read, spell, do math, articulate a scientific hypothesis, analyze a historical event or write a poem? I would trade every computer in the school district to free up money to hire the best teachers and then give them massive support and training to make them even better. Kids learn from teachers not computers. The problem for administrators is that teachers do not provide kickbacks and goodies the way computer services vendors do.

      You wrote “If properly presented as a learning aid and not a mindless video game provider, it should produce better results in research, lesson preparation and the like.”

      This is perhaps your most uninformed point. Do you have grandchildren? Put a 10 year old kid in front of a computer with an Internet connection today and they are going to go directly to YouTube to watch funny videos, to kids sites from Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network or to game sites like Club Penguin and Webkins or other similar gaming and entertainment sites. As they get older they are going to be on Facebook and other social networking sites. It is a fantasy to imagine that these laptops are going to change the nature of children — they want to play and be entertained and I see absolutely no reason to expect that this will be their primary use at home. A teacher can “present” the computer however they want but once the kid has the computer at home they can do whatever they want and I can assure you they do not want to use their new toy as a “learning aide”.

      On your final point, my issue is not with the teachers. I am sure there are many bright, motivated teachers at Jefferson and some of them may even be technologically adept. To support your point, one class even started up a blog about two years ago. That’s great! But this is the exception. I would like to see the half million this program is going to cost spent on teacher training to first make sure they ALL have a firm grasp of technology and how it can be integrated into the curriculum. The vast majority of teachers and administrators in New Rochelle are NOT technically adept. Our school administration is far worse. Organicisiak takes a perverse provide in being incompetent in this regard. Our school president is, incredibly, even less competent. You should try coming to board meetings. I was present at a school board meeting last fall when Christine Coleman made a presentation on IT to the board and afterwards Cindy Babcock-Deutsche asked “what’s a CPU?” It seems obvious to me that if you do not know that “CPU” is short for computer processing unit you should not be making decisions affecting many thousands of people by spending tens of millions of dollars other people’s money on technology.

      Given all this let me examine your final statement: “Program should be expanded, funds found for it in the current budget, augmented by grants, etc. and pushed through the system.

      What program is it that you want expanded? The District has not published or distributed any documents which even mention this program let alone explain it in detail. Maybe you just like the name of the program and that is sufficient for you to justify a brand new half-million dollar spending program?

      There are no funds for it in the current budget so your next point is moot.

      There are no “grants” for this program, so this point is also moot.

      So, when we boil it down, what you are really advocating is that voters blindly support yet another costly program where no plan has been published, no public discussion has taken place, and no funds have been OPENLY allocated in the school budget that voters are being asked to vote on in May. All because you think it “sounds good”.

      A lot of things “sound good” Warren. The devil is in the details. In this case, the District has never published a high-level strategic plan for technology or explained how the millions and millions of dollars already spent combine to advance a specific educational mission for the school district. Yet your position is “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead”. It is precisely that blind, uninformed dedication to approving of any and all spending as long as it feels good or helps politicians get a few votes that has brought our country to the point of insolvency, dependent on a totalitarian, communist government in China to finance trillions of dollars in debt. Spending money we do not have.

      I might well support this pilot program if someone will tell me exactly what it is, what it will actually cost all-in, what benefits we can expect, how success or failure is being defined for this pilot program, what metrics are being used to evaluate success, how the public is going to be informed about performance against these metrics, how this pilot program is intended to fit within a broader 1:1 laptop initiative and how that plan fits into a broader strategic IT plan. Until then, this is just another pig in a poke that I am not prepared to buy.

      Let me end by offering your some homework. McKinsey, a top management consulting firm, just released a report yesterday on “cloud computing”: A warning against premature adoption of cloud computing.

      Folks should understand that this pilot program is part of a broader effort to move the district into “cloud computing” and “virtualization”. I recognize that this topic will appear arcane to many and beyond the ability of some people to fully appreciate but everyone can understand that the amounts of money being spent by the district on technology is millions and millions of dollars. That MIGHT be a good idea but before our rather limited Director of IT commits this District willy-nilly to millions and millions of dollars on new, largely untested technologies, how about we get to see the plan? So for her only “argument” for moving to cloud computing, open source software and virtualization is that the software is “free”. Does that make sense to anyone? This is like saying you can get “comped” for a free room at a casino in Las Vegas. Sure, if you first lose a lot of money at the craps table. Technology is never free and moving forward into largely untested technology because it “sounds good” or appears to be “free” is playing craps with tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money. Before this district rolls the dice I would at least like to see my “free” room.

      At the very least lets make sure that self-professed technical luddites like Richard Organisciak and Cindy Babcock-Deutsch are not the ones making decisions about technology which they regularly admit they do not understand.

      Additional Reading:

      FBI seizures highlight law as cloud impediment

      1. Omg Bob Cox,have you lost it
        Omg Bob Cox,have you lost it completely? You take a paragraph or two supporting an idea of dispensing laptops on a pilot program for kids and you work get so worked up that I’m tempted to call 911 lest you keel over with a coronary. I re-read my blog and it didn’t seem that controversial. I looked at blog rules and I didn’t notice any groundrules requiring research requirements, subject matter expertise and the like. The fact is that your response is extraordinarily angry, offensive, and frankly, incoherent. You preach to me and others about what you have done, how much you know, how many meetings you have attended, and how the district people are likely on the take, incompetent, dishonest, etc.

        You got much too personal but it doesn’t matter. To answer your questions about my credentials — I taught at several colleges and universities, was senior advisor internationally on business policy and development for a major financial institution, published author on 5 occasions, substitute teacher, consultant and trainer of fortune 500 board of directors, consultant to Washington DC school district, etec……. all of this is boring and irrelevant.

        But, the fact is that your reckless leap into the chasm of induction is your problem. I and many others have frequently commented on the City, School Board, District, taxes, planning process, yawn, so what, but you have to lecture.

        What I regret the most is your bleak and self-righteous nonsense about the merits of lending a kid a laptop. It seems every kid is out to tune into video games, facebook, porn, God knows what else. I think you are full of ….. some will, some won’t and this is an acceptable risk. I don’t know the two teachers at Jefferson very well, but well enough to know that you would be fortunate to have either as a home room, technology, history or science teacher for your grandchildren. Why throw these guys under a bus?

        If you know as much as you imply you do about education you might bone up on what Jeff Greene, the Casey Report, and others have said about transition states in education as well as other pertinant areas important to the discussion.

        I am through at this point. I am sorry that you are so damn angry that you totally lose control and perspective on an innocuous support for laptops. I don’t recall mentioning anything beyond that re: other technology, district abuse, kickbacks; and I have my own thoughts and issues about the board, district, city administration, etc.. but for the record, I have no basis to even suggest they are dishonest, on the take or anything else.

        Just tell me if the blog rules have changed or anything else that you have in mind — by blog or in person. And, Robert, there are funds available outside of the budget for this sort of initiative. No big deal if anyone in the district wanted to search. And, comeon, when people decide whether to support the upcoming school budget or not, they are not voting for line items.

        warren gross

      2. Warren,
        Bluster aside, I


        Bluster aside, I take it that you do not actually know anything about technology or the application of technology to teaching curriculums. And that’s my point, you have no way of judging whether or not this program has merit beyond that it is a nice idea to give 10 years old free laptops.

        As far as “rules changing”, it is not changing the rule to challenge your credentials in stating your opinions as fact. You say this program is a “good investment” yet you have no basis for making that evaluation. You are free to challenge or question me or anyone else writing or commenting on this blog but, of course, anyone else including me can do the same to you. The site is called TALK of the Sound for a reason. We disagree on this subject and we are talking about it. That you do not like losing the argument is something that I cannot help.

        As for the liars, cheats and thieves running our schools, you certainly do have a basis for knowing the school district administrators or dishonest because you read an article I wrote which details a program that is intended to become quite expensive that is not described anywhere in the budget. If you do even a cursory review of the budget you will find all sorts of padding just like this in the budget. I would say that asking voters to vote on a budget that hides a great deal of spending is a form of fraud and thus inherently dishonest. We have documented here false statements made to the press by the Superintendent which you can independently verify by simply reading the newspaper and then fact-checking on your own. Richard Organisciak is a documented liar. If you want more just keep reading Talk of the Sound and you will get regular updates on the various dishonest, fraudulent, and yes criminal conduct of school officials. We do not have to debate that point — just keep reading and listen for the clicking of the handcuffs when they are snapped on the wrists of the various scoundrels who are even now being investigated by law enforcement.

        That I am throwing the teachers at Jefferson under the bus is an obvious strawman. I have said nothing desultory about any of the people mentioned in the Journal News article and have often said the school district has many excellent teachers. The problem in New Rochelle isn’t the teachers – barring the normal quotient common to any school district — its the leadership.

      3. you continue to get too
        you continue to get too personal with your language about bluster aside, etc. I made a relatively small series of comments and don’t care about your erudite skill, research abilities, facts, etc Also I am sick and tired of your antagonism towards me and my views. Lets meet in person and handle this rather than typing away ad nauseam. You have become a sad sad example of frustrated rage and this is my last word on this topic. Grow up and stop telling me what the hell I know or don’t know.

        warren gross

  4. Why is it that Bob Cox seems
    Why is it that Bob Cox seems to be the only one to pick up on these details. That’s not to say other citizens don’t notice, but you would think at the very least, the school board would have thought this through. No matter how you look at it this program’s timing, execution and cost have no appreciable benefit when compared to the total costs incurred. This is all the more reason to break up the status quo and get some new blood into the board. Polow must go and for the budget vote NO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Does Iona Prep provide their
    Does Iona Prep provide their students with laptops? We should probably take everything away from every New Rochelle student so people who send their children to Iona Prep don’t have to pay a lot in property taxes. That’s really what you’re getting at in this article isn’t it? Destroy the New Rochelle public school system so property taxes plummet and the parochial schools look more appealing? In fact not only is this a dumb stance to take, you’re going to destroy the infrastructure of the city you live in. That’s what your site is doing.

    1. No idea what Iona Prep has
      No idea what Iona Prep has to do with this. Perhaps in your sadly muddle mind there is some coherent strain of thought behind your rant but until then let me see if I can explain this slowly enough for you to follow.

      Not giving 10 year old children brand new free laptops is not quite the same thing as taking away everything from every New Rochelle student.

      OK? Still with me?

      Likewise, young kids not getting free laptops from the school district is not going to destroy the infrastructure of the City.

      Had you attended any of the budget meetings you would know that the school board and school administration has repeatedly sought to justify the 2009-10 budget on the grounds that it is a “maintenance” budget. They have defined this made up term to mean no new programs, no new spending, just keeping things are they are.

      This new program with loads of new spending — discretionary, non-mandated spending — puts the lie to the repeated claims of Superintendent Richard Organisciak, School Board President Cindy Babcock-Deutsch and every other member of the board who has sought to foist this canard on New Rochelle voters.

      They may be out there but I have not met a single person who is advocating cutting the current budget of $222,000,000. What people do not understand is why we are repeatedly told that an $8,000,000 increase is required to keep the budget at a “maintenance” level when prices for just about everything – energy, transportation, salaries, real income – are falling. And we are told no new programs and no new spending then get a story in the Journal News about a new program with new spending and loads more spending to follow.

      Beyond that I think people are tired of being told that if you do not accept the reckless and unjustified spending plans of the adult from Long Island who runs our school district then you do not care about the children of New Rochelle.

    2. Iona Prep at least the High
      Iona Prep at least the High School requires parents purchase the Lap Tops that are required. In addition to paying for those lap tops those same parents are paying 13K in tuition base and they do not get a reduction in their school taxes paid to the City School District. The school system and Board have a responsibility to educate with the most up to date equipment including laptops and computers. However they must find a way to control waste and repetivie spending. Its a huge task and a huge school district with many challenges included educating some who maybe should not even been inside our borders as they have NOT come here legally.
      In doing all of the above they must not come to the tax payers every year when they have yet to make some lean decisions. Anyone who does not think the New Rochelle school district is fat and happy simply had not looked hard enough. Last year 6.8% this year they had better not come for anything in terms of an increase, in fact some are expecting a Roll Back.

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