The Petaluma Educational Foundation has formed a new task force to develop a cutting-edge, strategic approach to help with the future funding of digital technology classrooms in Petaluma schools.

PEF's grant team — consisting of board members, school technology specialists, regional experts in the technology industry and parent representatives — have created the technology advisory task force to help deliver education through technology. It hopes to: achieve a level playing field in classrooms by optimizing physical learning environments, fully engage students in the learning process and align potential investors.

PEF awarded $190,000 in grants this year, and $120,000 (65 percent) of it went to technology programs. The grant committee anticipates that the portion of grant requests for technology programs will continue to increase.

The new task force plans to determine more specific funding parameters for grants by developing dynamic criteria and a rubric for collaborative, sustainable and governable applications of technology. It intends to have a comprehensive workshop, tech fair and investors' reception by August for potential grant writers and donors.

The workshop and tech fair will be mandatory for teachers applying for PEF's 2010 Major Impact Grants.

Diane Zimmerman, superintendent of the Old Adobe Union School District, is among the members of the new task force.

"We are never far enough along with technology for the digital generation," Zimmerman said.

The PEF Grant Program enables local teachers and school communities to bring innovative ideas to fruition. Since 1992, 1,524 grants, totaling nearly $1.85 million, have been awarded. Major Impact Grants are awarded annually for as much as $15,000, and emphasize innovative program of extraordinary scope, reach or longevity.

— Argus-Courier staff