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New challenges ahead for ‘wired’ Berkeley High

By Jeffrey Obser, Daily Planet staff
Monday October 29, 2001

The Berkeley Unified School District’s two classroom technology coordinators have their work cut out for them. 

Under state law, they must write a detailed report by Jan. 1 explaining how the schools will spend public money on computers, digital cameras and related teacher training over the next three years. 

The problem is, with a big federal grant due to dry up at the end of the school year, they have to plan for things there may not be any money for. At the same time, they must not ask for so little that they miss out on some unexpected windfall. 

“How to ask for money without asking for money?” said Janet Levenson, who oversees the tech programs for the elementary and middle schools. “At this point I don’t think we can ask for anything that requires funding, so what we’re looking to do is sort of write it as a ‘plan to plan.’” 

The technology coordinators are on a tight timeline. They must draft the report by Nov. 26 and submit it for approval at the Dec. 5 school board meeting to meet the state’s Jan. 1 deadline. 

Ironically, as times change and the Internet craze of the 1990s seems like ancient history, Levenson and Carolyn Gery, Berkeley High’s technology coordinator, are also finding their mission hampered by the district’s recent success in rapidly bringing computers to every classroom. 

“Over the last year and half we’ve gotten completely wired and we’ve seen huge numbers of computers coming onto the campus,” said Gery. 

Now, Gery said, there is a minimum of two computers per classroom, plus myriad printers, scanners, digital video cameras and an instructional technician at each site to troubleshoot and help integrate the new technology into the curriculum. 

Statewide, 90 percent of schools were connected to the