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NLS plan highlights divide on education funding

NEW LONDON -- A parent and community group is using a networking campaign to mobilize support for the New London-Spicer technology levy, while a Spicer businessman is running advertisements in the New London newspaper voicing his opposition to the ballot measure.

Yes For Technology is a parent and community group working on the networking campaign in support of the levy, according to Susan Lange, co-chairman of the committee.

The group's goal is to have 120 levy supporters reach out to 10 others who support the levy and remind and encourage them to vote, she said.

The $1.5 million levy -- $500,000 for three years -- isn't about taxes or really, even about technology, Lange says. "It's about investing in our kids, they are our future," she said.

The district needs to give all of its educators the modern tools to teach students, she said.

Daryl Ingalsbe, a businessman who lives in Spicer, is running a series of advertisements in the Lakes Area Review denouncing the need for the technology levy.

He says he's a "committee of one" who is running the ads and talking with people about the levy.

Ingalsbe says that the levy is just another burdensome school tax that will not change how the schools educate students.

"The more money we give our schools, the less we get from them," he said.

Ingalsbe wants schools to teach students how to think and be creative, but says those attributes don't come from teaching to use technology. He says he's not anti-education or against teachers or students, just that the focus of the levy is wrong.

"It's more money to buy more junk," he said.

Lange is the parent of two elementary students, and she noted that her son's classroom doesn't have an interactive whiteboard, while the next classroom down the hall does have such a whiteboard. The district's new reading curriculum includes many electronic components that cannot be used in her son's classroom, while the students in the next classroom can use the electronic lessons. The students are all reading, she said, but some are missing the enhancement elements because of the limited technology.

"Everyone should get the opportunity to use the technology to enhance their education," Lange said. "It's not about the whiteboard or the technology, it is about the teacher having the tools to teach the children."

Technology is changing everything, from how people live and work, says Cherrish Holland, who also co-chairs the Yes group. "When I go to the elementary school, I see the same tools used to teach my children that I had in school," she said, adding that schools simply aren't keeping up with the technology changes that are rapidly changing how businesses and agricultural production operate.

Ingalsbe's companies, with engineers located in New London, make electronics and airplanes in Oregon, Florida, North Dakota and Minnesota. While his engineers are educated workers, he says he doesn't hire employees for their ability to run computers. Rather, he says he hires for attitude and provides the training needed.

"What businesspeople want is people who can think and create," Ingalsbe said.