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Bonnell Defends Building Block Approach

Although at one point committee member Will Kingkade compared he and his six fellow board members to a firing squad, the March 3 School Committee meeting was not all bad for the man at the other end of the metaphoric gun. Chief Technology Officer Robert Bonnell held his ground as he explained to the committee how he had used the past seven months and how the building blocks of the infrastructure are coming into play.

Brought in to update the committee on the progress he has made and where he hopes to be in the next four to five months, Bonnell was quickly put on the spot when he mentioned one of his focuses was making sure that technology was being used by the teachers.

Committee member Lori Baranauskas quickly countered by telling the committee that she was recently in the principal's office at Middle School East and saw stacks of unopened Netbooks and Mimios. "I was horrified," she recounted. Explaining that if this had been brought to the board's attention earlier, they could have had them unpacked, Bonnell was quick to explain that these pieces of hardware had been purchased by the PTO prior to his hire and that the infrastructure of the school couldn't even support this equipment yet.

He went on to explain that his position, a 60/40 split between the schools and the town offices allowed for a lot of updates to be made by relocating equipment to where it can be most effectively used; however it takes time as he explained to the committee.

Committee member Patrick Holland said that he understood the issues of updating the technology as well as supplying the know-how to the teaching staff, but he emphasized that it should happen in that order, "Let's put the tools in place, and then teach everybody how to use them."

Moving forward the message is loud and clear that all technology purchases, whether through the school or through a parental group, should go through Bonnell, preventing situations like this one from being repeated.

Bonnell was able to tell the committee about a help desk system that has been put in place, as well as a free email service that the district is being transitioned to building by building.

The committee praised Bonnell for his hands-on approach and added that all the feedback they have received concerning him has been very positive.


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