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Student, educators show why tax proposition to fund tech upgrades needed

Airline student Tyler Tran, left, works on a computer in the cyber literacy class. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

Technology in the classroom is constantly changing, and constantly becoming more and more predominant. Tablets are replacing textbooks, Google has replaced the Encyclopedia, and just about anything students want to know is literally available at their fingertips with smartphones. 

That is why Bossier Parish Schools is seeking funding from the public to improve their schools’ capabilities via a tax proposal on the May 4 ballot. Currently, there is no dedicated funding source for technology, and this tax proposition would go towards funding technology improvements across the district.

Educators have underscored the importance of developing technology competence in students as they enter the workforce. But with an outdated tech infrastructure in Bossier schools, that goal is getting harder to reach.

Airline Sophomore Tyler Tran. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

Airline High School’s Cyber Literacy Teacher Billy Neill knows the ramifications of technology on education and the student.

“Technology has a positive impact in the education process. It allows students to be better prepared for whatever job or school they would like to go into after graduating,” Neill said. “By embracing and integrating technology in the classroom, we are setting our students up for a successful life outside of school.”

One such student that has embraced technology is Tyler Tran, a sophomore at Airline High School.

Coming from a different culture and a family who had to struggle financially throughout his life, Tyler found solace in the detailed structure of technology and what it has to offer.

“Technology skills are essential in order to be successful in this day and age. Jobs that may not have had a digital component in the past have one now,” Tran said. 

Tyler notes that education isn’t just about learning facts and attending English class, it’s a combination of studies that prepares you for the future. 

“Education isn’t just about memorizing facts and vocabulary words, it’s about solving complex problems. Like, when you take the cyber literacy class, this class prepares students for their future and sets us up for this increasing digital economy,” Tran said.

As a student who uses technology everyday at school, Tyler has noticed how long it takes him and his fellow classmates to log into the computer systems. And how frustrating it can be when the internet freezes up while in the middle of a test. 

“I know why this is happening. The system is outdated. It needs to be upgraded. If not, then it will continue affecting our studies,” he said.

After hearing that the Bossier Parish School Board recently approved a proposal on the May 4 ballot for additional funding for technology infrastructure upgrades, Tyler said he hopes the community supports it.

“I do hope everyone votes ‘Yes.’ We desperately need the upgrades. It is an investment into our education and our futures,” he said. Technology changes by the minute, as students we need to keep up with the times in order to best prepared for this ever-changing world that we live in.” 

Bossier Parish Schools Superintendent Scott Smith has been very vocal about the need to improve and increase tech capabilities.

“Our infrastructure is beginning to crumble and we cannot handle all of the bandwidth of all of the devices we have,” he told the Press-Tribune earlier this month.

With the Bossier school district being the second fastest growing in the state and the fastest growing in the north, it presents some unique obstacles.

The district has added over 14,000 devices used by students over the past two years. 

With technology growing at a high rate over the years, Bossier schools can’t keep up with added devices used by students and teacher due to the crumbling infrastructure that they currently have.

“Bossier is fast becoming a technology hub. We have to make sure we’re staying on top of this and giving our kids the very best materials for education, and sometimes it comes with a price tag,” Smith said. “We have to have these other factors in place. Salaries and technology are key. Parents expect that so their children can be competitive gong into a job or into college.”

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.