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Bossier Superintendent talks needs for technology in schools

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A 4th grader at Legacy Elementary uses technology to complete an assignment. (Stacey Tinsley/Press Tribune)

By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

With technology changing at a rapid rate, Superintendent Scott Smith is stressing the importance of keeping Bossier Parish school students up to date.

But due to funding constraints combined with rapid growth in the student population, it is hard to match the tools to students’ bright future.

“Our district is growing and technology demand has increased across the board. For the most part, we have not been able to meet this demand and grow with our district,” Smith said.

Specifically, he says additional funding is needed to modernize the district’s technology network, provide a stable refresh rate for teacher and student devices, and become progressive in providing emerging classroom technologies to our schools.

The district has tripled the number of devices used by students over the past three years.

In the last two years alone, Bossier Parish schools has added 14,000 plus student devices. This includes a 165 percent increase in wireless usage. And the school district is eight times below national recommendations for Internet bandwidth.

“The technology networks are aging and cannot fully support a growing and innovative district. For every classroom in our district, you have to figure there are around 80 devices being used. We need to upgrade the infrastructure to support all of those,” said Stewart Thompson, supervisor of technology for Bossier Parish Schools.

Smith said the solution is recurring funding. He says it is needed to modernize the network and provide current and emerging classroom technologies to students and teachers.

The Schools themselves and even some teachers have been responsible for some infrastructure upgrades because of lack of district level funding. And the district relies heavily on grants for classroom technology, including student devices.

“Our teachers should not have to pay out of their own pocket or fundraise within their schools for technology upgrades,” said Smith.

The technology needs are even more urgent need when considering Smith’s goal of Bossier Parish Schools becoming the highest performing district in the state.

“The Bossier School District is the second fastest growing in the state and the fastest growing in the north. So keeping up with technology has been a challenge. The current infrastructure that we have in place can not sustain our current demand in the classrooms,” said Smith.

Smith stated that technology is a key for learning, and it’s a priority to ensure students have the very best available to them.

“Bossier is fast becoming a technology hub. We have to make sure we’re staying atop of this and giving our kids the very best materials for education. A strong education and technology system is crucial in developing and sustaining a quality workforce,” said Smith.