LONGMONT -- The St. Vrain Valley School District is about to offer email accounts to all middle and high school students.
"We see a lot of upside to this," Joe McBreen, the district's chief information officer, told the Board of Education during Wednesday's study session. "It's about student learning and safety."
Parents will have the opportunity to opt out, McBreen said.
But school board members hope that few parents take that route.
"This is part of a 21st century education," said school board director Rick Hammans. When students get to college, they will be expected to communicate with professors and classmates -- and even turn in assignments -- using email, he said.
"It's better to learn with training wheels," Hammans said.
School board president John Creighton said that parents who don't want their children to have district email accounts need to understand that it could affect the students' grades.
"Their child may not be able to keep up with their homework," Creighton said. "There's a lot of downsides to being opted out."
Email accounts are necessary, for example, for students to use Google Documents when collaborating on a project.
By having district accounts, students' emails will be filtered by the district, eliminating most of the spam and inappropriate email they could see if they signed up for free accounts from third-party vendors, McBreen said.
Also during Wednesday's meeting, school board members received the district's comprehensive annual financial report, or CAFR, from the district's auditors.
Cheryl Wallace of RubinBrown LLC said her firm gave the report an "unqualified opinion," the best possible, which reflects that the district's records are correct and accurate.
The district's net assets fell $2.8 million in 2011, but its assets are $95.9 million greater than its liabilities, according to a draft of the CAFR.
The ending fund balance for all funds decreased $59.7 million, to $187.2 million, mostly due to bond-related spending from the building fund.
Because the district slowed down spending last spring, in anticipation of further state funding cuts, the general fund balance increased by $4.3 million to $46.6 million. Of that, $3.8 million is not assigned or obligated to particular spending.
Liabilities increased $9.4 million to $504.3 million because building bonds were refinanced during the year, according to a draft of the CAFR.
The final version of the CAFR will be posted to the school district's website, svvsd.org, when it is finished.
Victoria Camron can be reached at 303-684-5226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.