Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School's technology needs to grow every year, as technology itself grows, according to Managment Information Systems Manager Nancy Errico.
But the cost of the that technology could come with at least a $500,000 price tag.
"The only constant I can tell you about technology is that it's constantly changing," Errico said.
In years past, the school had 300 computers and 20 printers, she said. By the 2004-06 era, the new building housing Lincoln-Sudbury had 1,200 computers with more than 1,800 users.
Errico said the goal of technology use at the school is to support education.
"It's not about acquiring devices, just the sake of acquiring devices," she said, stressing that technology is only useful in terms of what it can do for education.
"Whether you taught in 1892, 1992 or 2012, you always want to engage with your students. And today, your students are digital natives," said Errico about young people's high comfort level with computers, tablets, iPads, social media, cell phones and other tools of a new era.
A number of classes rely almost solely on technology, she said. She described a history class that uses iPads.
"But it's not an iPad class. It's a modern civilization class," she said.
Other classes allow students to use smartphones for various purposes, such as accessing information from a website.
L-S has a comfort level with allowing students and staff to bring devices into the school, Errico said.
"It's not even a bring your own device environment, it's more like devices plural," she said, noting most students and staff own more than one device.
Errico said there's no significant problems with students using devices solely for recreational purposes during school hours. Superintendent/Principal Scott Carpenter noted that sites such as Facebook and YouTube are blocked. He said that when he walks past students who are using technology, it is for assignments and educational purposes the majority of the time.
"Sometimes people say, why doesn't every student have a tablet, or an iPad? Well, (the infrastructure) can't support the devices that are already there," Errico said, mentioning that L-S does not currently have a network infrastructure backbone to support hundreds of devices all at the same time. She said a recent study found that 2,441 unique devices tried to access the network in a 24-hour period.
A full infrastructure upgrade would cost an estimated $500,000, Errico said, which would include a backbone network, hardware, expanded WIFI, increased bandwidth and professional development for teachers to make the best use of the new tools available.
"There's always going to have to be funds. It's like sewer or water," said Errico, explaining that even a fully upgraded infrastructure would need constant maintenance and updates, all of which would require regular funding.
She showed a chart that indicated that with servers, mobile labs, special education services and more, the technology upgrade bill grows from $500,000 to $640,000.
Several members of the Finance Committee attended the presentation and asked about less expensive options, such as leasing programs that might help reduce yearly costs.
A full technology upgrade has not been budgeted or approved at this time, but School Committe members said they found it helpful to begin a discussion about technology needs.