Marion school board voted Monday to equip all students from fifth grade on with a laptop computer beginning in the fall, and they discussed the possibility of adding even earlier grades in the future.
With a price tag of nearly $100,000, it’s a significant expense. More than that, though, it is an investment. The district will phase out many desktop computers — computer dinosaurs by the standards of many of today’s youths. This investment brings Marion even with other schools that already issue computers to students and gives it a leg up on schools that still rely entirely on desktops, computer labs, and computer carts, at least in attracting families to the school district.
Superintendent Lee Leiker acknowledged the strain this will likely place on the schools’ computer networks, saying the district has already worked to beef them up, with more work likely on the way. That’s another investment, this one in infrastructure, and infrastructure is what makes other investments work. Without steady networks, computers can’t get the data users seek. Without a modern power grid, electricity can’t get to people’s homes (as is the case in many third-world countries). Without roads, a factory can’t send its products to market.
The point is investment is important. Moreover, investments need to grow. If you always do what you’ve always done, except you do a little less of it, you’re withering, slowly shrinking and dying.
Investments — real investments, not just a fresh coat of paint — create momentum, and momentum rarely stays steady. It grows, or it dissipates. At graduation on Saturday, Marion High School will recognize nine graduates who have kept perfect grades the past four years — now that is momentum to capitalize on. Adding the laptop program positions the school to try to grow that momentum. Can others in the county learn that lesson?
— ADAM STEWART