Sunnyside board votes to offer laptop program to other districts

2014-03-27T00:00:00Z Sunnyside board votes to offer laptop program to other districtsBy Veronica M. Cruz Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Sunnyside Unified School District Governing Board voted Tuesday to move forward with marketing and replicating its laptop program to other school districts after putting the efforts on hold for a year.

The One-to-One program provides laptops for every student at Sunnyside as well as digital curriculum and other associated services.

Sunnyside is looking to replicate the program in five districts next school year. Two of the districts are in Arizona, two are in Indiana and one is in Georgia.

Sunnyside would charge each district a fee up to $25,000 and $10,000 for travel expenses for the first year of services.

Board member Buck Crouch voted against the move, saying it didn’t fit with the core functions of the district. “We’re stealing from the children of Sunnyside to do this ... to take staff and go help other districts,” Crouch said.

Board member Daniel Hernandez also voted against it, saying the district had not provided enough details about the implementation of the program.

Superintendent Manuel Isquierdo said the district seeks to earn $125,000 from the program, which would then be used for internal and external marketing of the district.

Hernandez questioned whether there are any restrictions on how the money earned from the program could be spent and whether using it for promoting the district was justified in light of recent budget cuts.

Isquierdo said the district needs to highlight the positive things happening there to help repair the district’s image after allegations of corruption were made by Hernandez last year. He said it’s also important to promote the district to attract new students and retain current ones.

The superintendent said he does not want to take money from the district’s maintenance and operations budget to use on marketing.

The replication of the One-to-One program was put on hold last year after several issues were raised about how the program was marketed to other districts.

A contentious issue was a $75,000 stipend Isquierdo received in his contract for marketing, education and training efforts associated with the program.

Isquierdo said the money earned from the program’s sales to other districts allowed for the $75,000 to be reimbursed into the district’s marketing budget.

Under the terms of Isquierdo’s two-year contract extension approved last year, the $75,000 stipend was dropped from his contract.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Isquierdo also discussed the allegations of corruption made last year by Hernandez by saying he had asked district attorney John Richardson to contact the various agencies with oversight of Sunnyside to see if there are any current or outstanding investigations of the district.

Richardson reported the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, Arizona Auditor General’s Office, Arizona Department of Education and the Pima County Attorney’s Office gave confirmation there are no active investigations of Sunnyside.

Contact reporter Veronica M. Cruz at vcruz@azstarnet.com or 573-4224

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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