by Julie Ann Madden
With the voter-approved Physical Plant & Equipment Levy (PPEL) a done deal, Akron-Westfield administrators and the A-W Technology Committee are busy planning.
At the Nov. 12 Akron-Westfield School Board meeting, board members received a sneak-peek of possibly what the district’s Technology Plan will be.
Grades Preschool-6 Principal Cathy Bobier explained the Technology Committee had met and came up with a “Techology Wish List” for the rest of this school year and the 2013-2014 school year. Then the principals, technology coordinators Bob Brewington and Dwain Wilmot and Shared Superintendent Randy Collins met and made their own “Wish List.”
On Dec. 10, the two groups were to consolidate their two plans into one Technology Plan and recommend the board members approve it.
For the rest of this school year, the Technology Committee foresees:
• All teachers will have laptops, which will cost approximately $27,000;
• A-W will become a Google School at no cost to the district;
• Projectors will be replaced, a cost of about $9,000;
• Three iMacs computers with art software would be purchased for the art classes, a cost of approximately $7,000. It was noted these computers could be leased;
• Purchase two portable laptop carts with 24 computers each for the Middle School. It was noted the Middle School computer lab is on “its last legs,” and the portable carts would cost about $54,000.
• Purchase some iMAC bags at $35 each; and
• Purchase a LanSchool student management service for $2,200 a year. This service restricts students’ use on the internet.
Next Fall, the committee recommended:
• Grades 9-12 going 1:1, where each student has a laptop computer; therefore, their 175 MAC laptops with bags would be purchased for about $175,000;
• Purchase five iPads for each of the 14 elementary classrooms, a cost of approximately $28,000;
• Purchase a portable PC laptop cart for the elementary;
• Purchase software as needed; and
• Buy document cameras where needed such as for the Talented And Gifted classroom and Title Reading/Mathematics room. These are cameras that set on a desktop. Teachers have students do some work, put it under the camera and all in the classroom can view it.
“The reason for not starting 1:1 this year was the Tech Committee wanted to make sure we had the laptops,” said Bobier, explaining then teachers have the rest of this year to learn how to use them in their classrooms. “If we gave laptops to both at same time, we’d have a huge learning curve for both the people who are instructing and kids getting the laptops.”
Administrators’ Tech Plan
The Administrative Team’s Wish List was a little more progressive.
Beginning in January:
• All teachers have laptops; • Buy replacement and new projectors;
• Purchase Three iMACs for art ;
• Buy 10 (instead of just five) iPads in each elementary classroom. The money saved by allowing Middle School students to go 1:1 and not replacing the Middle School lab computers makes this possible; and
• Purchase student management services.
Fall of 2013:
• 1:1 laptops for Grades 6-12. According to Bobier, a lot of our high school teachers already teach Middle School classes. In fact, there is only one teacher who strictly teaches Middle School and she’s heavily into technology. Furthermore, West Sioux has 1:1 for Grades 6-12.
The Administrative Committee is figuring out how to pay for implementing this Technology Plan.
According to Collins, the district has annual estimated Physical Plant & Equipment Levy (PPEL) revenue of approximately $210,000 and School Infrastructure Local Option (SILO) sales tax of about $400,000. The revenue total for these two levies is about $610,000.
He suggested two plans for spending these revenues. Both plans would keep $100,000 annually in reserve. Then for Technology, spend $200,000 and for Facility/Transportation expenditures, $300,000 or vice versa. Therefore, the grand total of revenues spent in any given year would be about $600,000.
Other questions also needed to be decided such as would all the students be allowed to take them home.
West Sioux gives all Grades 6-12 students the opportunity to take their computers home; however, A-W Grades 7-12 Principal Derek Briggs was not in favor of having Grades 6-7 taking them home.
Shared Technology Coordinator Bob Brewington noted that he’s had little problems with students breaking the equipment. So far, he’d only had four laptop screens broken.
According to Collins, in researching this, school districts have reported about 2 percent on average are damaged. Akron-Westfield can use their Break-Fix Insurance and have Brewington and Wilmot fix them inhouse.
West Sioux gives parents the authority as to whether students can take them home or not. He reported only 15 out of 350 students leave the computers at school.
When board members asked how students whose families don’t have internet access are able to complete homework at home, Brewington explained at West Sioux, students can stay at school and work in their Commons area and ride the Activities Bus home.
Students also go to other students’ homes or to the Hawarden Public Library, he said, adding he hasn’t had any complaints about the lack of wireless access.
Some school districts provide wireless access that extends outside their buildings, added Briggs.
Students who use their laptops outside of the school are still restricted to the student management service’s restrictions, said Brewington.
As of this November meeting, the Technology Committee hadn’t seen what the Administrative Team had come up with. Neither had decided whether to go with Macintosh or PC computers.
On Nov. 14, A-W teachers spent the afternoon at West Sioux seeing how those teachers use technology in their classrooms.
At the Dec. 10 A-W School Board meeting, a recommendation on a final Technology Plan was to be presented.