Education Funding

Philadelphia and Microsoft Planning High-Tech School

By Marianne D. Hurst — September 17, 2003 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Philadelphia school district and the Microsoft Corp. recently announced a plan for a partnership to build a $46 million high school in the city that will be outfitted with the latest educational technology.

Paul G. Vallas, who became the chief executive officer of troubled 200,000- student district in July of last year, said the partnership signals a change for the better for Philadelphia students.

“We’re looking for a way to institutionalize excellence,” said Mr. Vallas, who hopes that the partnership will help create a paperless operating system for the school, and give all district students more educational choices and better learning environments.

The school, which is slated to open in 2006 and serve about 700 students, will have such technological features as a “virtual” library, handheld computing devices for all students, and wireless communications. Parents will have online access to student report cards, weekly teaching guides, and homework assignments.

The technology will also help optimize the school’s operations, officials say, by automating everything from ordering supplies to selecting a nutritionally sound lunch menu.

A Microsoft School?

Both district and Microsoft officials are quick to stress that the district, not the giant computer-software company, will run the new school.

“Microsoft is not getting into the business of managing schools,” said Wanda Miles, the executive director of Microsoft’s Learning Technologies Education Solutions Group. She noted that the funding for the project would come from the school district’s five-year, $1.5 billion capital-bond plan.

Still, Microsoft will be providing a human-resources team, including a full- time project manager, to help provide professional development for teachers and input on technology design.

Even so, district officials insist the school will not be obligated to use Microsoft software.

But some technology experts are skeptical that school officials will not be unduly influenced by Microsoft’s role in the school.

Kim Jones, the vice president of global education and research for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems, which has donated roughly $6 billion worth of its Star Office software to schools around the world, is concerned about Microsoft’s role.

“What you don’t want to have is a stranglehold on the curriculum,” she said. “Microsoft is one [corporation] that would be scary. Is it going to be a Microsoft school for Microsoft, or is it one that will be a showcase school open to all vendors?”

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding Reported Essay Are We Asking Schools to Do Too Much?
Schools are increasingly being saddled with new responsibilities. At what point do we decide they are being overwhelmed?
5 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Education Funding Interactive Look Up How Much COVID Relief Aid Your School District is Getting
The federal government gave schools more than $190 billion to help them recover from the pandemic. But the money was not distributed evenly.
2 min read
Education Funding Explainer Everything You Need to Know About Schools and COVID Relief Funds
How much did your district get in pandemic emergency aid? When must the money be spent? Is there more on the way? EdWeek has the answers.
11 min read
090221 Stimulus Masks AP BS
Dezirae Espinoza wears a face mask while holding a tube of cleaning wipes as she waits to enter Garden Place Elementary School in Denver for the first day of in-class learning since the start of the pandemic.
David Zalubowski/AP
Education Funding Why Dems' $82 Billion Proposal for School Buildings Still Isn't Enough
Two new reports highlight the severe disrepair the nation's school infrastructure is in and the crushing district debt the lack of federal and state investment has caused.
4 min read
Founded 55 years ago, Foust Elementary received its latest update 12-25 years ago for their HVAC units. If the school receives funds from the Guilford County Schools bond allocation, they will expand classrooms from the back of the building.
Community members in Guilford, N.C. last week protested the lack of new funding to improve the district's crumbling school facilities.
Abby Gibbs/News & Record via AP