The Brick Township school district will spend $2.7 million for technology upgrades and new curriculum and textbooks for students following a vote last week by the Board of Education.
The board voted to set aside $2.25 million and solicit bids for the technology spending, which will also include security upgrades at township schools. The $2.25 million will be financed through a lease purchase agreement with the winning bidder, officials said. The lease-purchase agreement is effectively a financing agreement, in which the district pays a set yearly amount of money toward a purchase instead of borrowing funds and bonding for the purchase.
The technology will include Motorola radios for school officials, new public address systems for school buildings, 75 security cameras, 20 interactive projectors, 10 sound field devices to assist students who are hard of hearing, 103 printers, 61 copiers, as well as desktop and laptop computers.
The technology will be paid over a period of five years, said James Edwards, the district’s business administrator.
The board also voted to enter into a lease purchase agreement for $475,000 worth of textbooks and curricula, which primarily funds the Big Ideas mathematics program that will serve grades 6-12. Earlier this year, district officials said the program aligns with Common Core standards and dovetails better than the current curriculum with Math Expressions, the curriculum which is used in the lower grades.
The idea of entering into the financing agreement to purchase the textbooks and curricula led to criticism from one resident who said the district should have found room in its $146 million budget for the outright purchase of the materials in order to avoid finance charges and fees from attorneys and financial professionals involved in the financing process.
“Is there some reason this can’t be a one-time expense so we don’t have to pay lawyers and financial advisers just to buy textbooks?” resident Vic Fanelli asked the board.
“That’s not the way we approved the budget, so I’m not sure what the question is,” replied Edwards, explaining that the district budgeted $193,000 for the purchase this year and will pay the remaining amount due over the following two years.
“I find that a waste of money,” Fanelli said.