Brief History of Technology in Renton
The citizens of Renton have provided the District with strong and reliable support for the integration of technology into teaching, learning, and district operations since 1992 through a series of levies and bonds. Beginning in the 1990s and then throughout out the 2000s all schools were equipped with computer labs, classroom computers, and printers. This supported our instructional model allowing for whole group instruction in the labs and individual and small group work in the classrooms. Each teacher was provided with a desktop computer. The first access to the internet was provided to the schools over telephone lines. District offices began to incorporate technology and were provided with the appropriate software and computers for their needs.
In the mid-2000s classrooms were equipped with ‘presentation stations’ that included a digital projector, document camera and audio system. In 2006 visionary technology leaders saw the need for high speed digital and internet access throughout the district and joined a consortium of cities, government agencies and school districts on the east side of Lake Washington that were adding and connecting fiber optic broadband access. In collaboration with the City of Renton, in 2007 the district started laying fiber optic cable to our schools and buildings, completing this effort in 2014.
Beginning in 2008 wireless Wi-Fi access was provided to our buildings for instructional purposes in conjunction with deployment of the first wireless laptops in carts (better known as COWs – Computers on Wheels). This movement to mobile computers reached teachers in 2012 with their classroom desktop computer being replaced by a laptop. In 2012 an external consultant was hired to examine the operations of the technology program. Cabinet and RTCC accepted the recommendations to reorganize and expand the department to meet growing expectations and needs.
2012 Levy and Its Impact
In 2013 the movement to mobile, Wi-Fi enabled computing accelerated with the planning and in 2014 the addition of over 800 wireless access points bringing the district total to 1100. This includes one access point in each classroom allowing a classroom set of computers to easily access online materials. In 2014 an additional 1600 laptops in over 100 COWs were added throughout the district continuing the move toward mobile devices. These systems were robust enough to support students taking district and state assessments online. Support for ‘cloud-based’ computing began in 2014 with upgrades to our underlying hardware and then our software systems. Two cloud-based programs, Office 365 and Canvas, a learning management system, were piloted and adopted. Roll-out of these programs began in early 2016. The old, outdated intranet based upon SharePoint will be completely revised and updated in 2016. All of this work is providing the infrastructure and tools to support student learning and instruction through having appropriate access to a laptop, computer or other type of mobile device. The 2016 Levy will focus on improving access and equity to the resources necessary for all of our students being prepared to be productive citizens and students in the 21st Century.