Voter-approved school bond was money well-spent |

Voter-approved school bond was money well-spent

Shopping carts are no longer seen at Aspen High School. And, as described inside this edition of The Aspen Times Weekly, chalk may soon be a thing of the past as well.

These changes were both triggered by a $40 million bond approved by voters in 2000. When the school’s 106,000-square-foot expansion opened in the fall, teachers no longer had to travel like gypsy pedagogues from overstuffed classroom to classroom, hauling their supplies in shopping carts.

And when the new computer network and multimedia capabilities were installed, Aspen’s schools truly vaulted into the 21st century. We’re not anti-chalk by any means, but it’s hard not to be impressed by the technological advancement that’s taken place at the school.

The laptop computers, video projectors, SmartBoards and other classroom tools are much more than expensive toys. They are effective learning tools that, for example, enable an entire class to read and discuss an electronic lesson at once. Worksheets are projected onto an electronic SmartBoard, a sort of modern-day blackboard that teachers and students can manipulate like a computer screen.

Science teachers can hook up video projectors to laboratory microscopes and project images of tiny organisms on the board for the entire class to see.

Teachers can bring laptops home to prepare lessons and, without any photocopies, chalk dust, or pencil sharpeners, deliver an interactive, visual lesson to an entire roomful of kids.

The students can check out laptops and save their work to a central school network, which is accessible from anywhere within the school’s doors (and possibly outside them as well) with no wires attached.

And through an online program called Black Board, students and parents can check assignments and announcements from teachers. This tool seems bound to improve communication between teachers, parents and students, a real plus during a time when families are busier than ever.

All of these tools are the result of the voter-approved bond issue and tax increase in 2000. Aspenites approved measure 3A by more than a 2-to-1 margin, and the wisdom of their choice is illustrated by this remark from teacher Karen Jaworski: “Teaching here is a science teacher’s dream come true.”

Nobody likes tax increases, but this one will pay dividends for years to come, with more room for a growing school population and tools to educate a technologically savvy population of young Aspenites. This can only help Aspen’s future as a resort and a community.

Shopping carts have their places, but school isn’t one of them. As for blackboards and chalk dust, well, we doubt today’s high schoolers will miss them.

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