Technology is posing an issue for Moorestown teachers

Over the years, technology’s presence in the classroom has increased. With the addition of smart boards, new educational computer programs and online projects, technology has a different role in the classroom helping teachers perform daily tasks of educating students. But without proper knowledge and equipment training, teachers are unable to utilize these instruments.

During a Moorestown Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22, a handful of teachers were concerned with the increasing technology in the district and the lack of training.

South Valley Elementary School teacher B.J. Lemaire addressed the board members with concerns that the increase of smart boards, new and updated programs and no training are holding teachers back from using the equipment properly.

“[Teachers] are held back by limited resources,” Lemaire said, adding the school district should train and repair the technology currently in the schools.

Roberts Elementary School teacher Bridget Potts reiterated concerns of teachers at the board meeting.

“Whether we all though it was necessary or not we embraced it in our classrooms,” said Potts referring to the addition of smart boards and other hi-tech tools in Moorestown classrooms. “We want training on what we have in our classrooms.”

Potts was also concerned the board members were looking at technology to replace the “human component” of teaching — the teachers.

“I don’t need a smart board. I need some quality literature and engaged students,” she said.

Board of education member A. Leigh Powell said the idea is not to replace teachers; it is to enhance and amplify teaching in the classroom.

Looking back at past IT staffing, he said the initial problem with having multiple technicians in the district was time was not being properly allocated between issues.

“In the past they took on too many projects,” he said.

Superintendent Brian Betze said the board is looking to resolve teacher’s concerns.

“We keep throwing technology at people and we have never done the training,” he said, adding technology is supposed to improve instruction in the classroom.

Betze said the school district would look into hiring a technician if there is money in the budget after Gov. Chris Christie’s budget announcement on Feb. 26.

Mishler said the school district would adopt a final budget on March 21.

“Kids aren’t making posters anymore, they are making PowerPoints that can be shared around the world. It’s really about trying to move from that classroom environment to a global awareness and sharing of ideas,” he said.

Other meeting news

The board appointed Carole Butler as the director of curriculum and instruction for the district. Butler was the principal at William Allen Middle School and is replacing former assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction Kate Burke Reilly.

The board also appointed Matthew Keith as interim principal for the middle school. Keith has a masters degree from Rider University. His term will end on June 30.

On Tuesday, Dec. 18, the Moorestown board of education met during a regular meeting and discussed the possibility of safety improvements in light of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. At the time, President Don Mishler said he was looking to present more of an update after the reorganization meeting.

Last night, Mishler gave a brief update on the security improvements. He was unable to go into detail about the possible changes.

According to Mishler, the school district did complete an independent security audit.

Changes were already made in the high school. Future changes in the district might include cameras outside of buildings, improvements to locks on outside doors and changing inside doors to have one-way glass so any intruders would not be able to see inside the classroom, he said.

Police don’t want armed guards outside the doors of schools nor do principals, Mishler said.

Vice president Kathy Goldenberg said security improvements have been, and will continue to be, an ongoing discussion.

“It has not been put on the back burner by any stretch,” she said.