By Katrina Van Duzee/Garden Grove Journal
Going back to school means new clothes, new supplies and new friends for many students nationwide and for those attending schools in the Westminster School District this year it means a new superintendent and new technology.
Although the kindergarten through eighth grade district faces $5.2 million in budget cuts, thanks to the school bond Measure O, students are stepping on campuses updated with the latest public address systems, phone systems and communication systems.
There is an expected enrollment of 9,900 students this year in the Westminster district, which includes 13 elementary schools and three middle schools.
“We are one of the most technologically advanced districts in the county,” Trish Montgomery, a spokesperson for the district said. “We may still be the only district that has Smart Boards in every classroom.”
Measure O is a $130 million construction bond aimed at repairing, upgrading and improving all the campuses in the district, Montgomery said. Although the bond was passed in 2008, the first Bond funds were just spent in time for the 2010-2011 school year.
“New technology and all the updates provide a really interactive way for teachers to teach and really engages the kids. The days of chalkboards are long gone,” Montgomery said.
The Westminster district has already updated their technology with the Smart Boards, which are interactive whiteboards that work like a computer, a projector and have touch screens, but plan to rewrite their technology plan in order to stay ahead.
“We have very extensive digital technology, but we will be rewriting our technology plan. A lot has changed since the last time we wrote it and we are looking very seriously at the potentials of using hand-held devices or some kind of computer pad in the classrooms,” Orquidia Acosta-Hathaway, Westminster’s administrator for curriculum and instruction said.
Beyond new devices and computer systems, Westminster is also getting a new superintendent, Richard Tauer, who stepped in July 1 replacing retired Superintendent Sharon Nordheim. Tauer previously served as the assistant superintendent of human resources for the district.
Tauer has a three-year contract for the position and is taking over the district amid more then $5 million in cuts this year and between $7-$8 million in cuts for next year.
The school year starts on Sept. 8 and ends June 17.