The district has been working on updating our technology plan over the past three years. Under the direction of Stacy Smith, our new technology coordinator, the process coalesced into a full several-year plan this fall.
The technology mission is for staff and students to “use technology as an indispensable tool that is seamlessly integrated into curriculum at all grade levels to improve student achievement,” helping students use technology to prepare for college and careers.
Infrastructure improvements are needed to meet the new technology requirements. The federal government has a program called e-Rate that offers up to 50% of funding for certain technology needs. They will provide $600,000 over five years, going toward upgrading the JH & HS wireless network capacity in 2016 and the four existing elementary buildings in 2017. The two new elementaries (Seipelt & Smith) will have their wireless networks installed as part of the new construction.
We will also plan to upgrade and refresh staff computers, projectors & displays in all classrooms every five years.
As far as student use of technology, we will be implementing a new 1:1 Digital Learning Program in grades 7-9. Chromebooks will be the device of choice and will be provided to students for a $100/year fee for each of 7th, 8th and 9th grade years, at which point the student will own the device. If the student has a device parents will allow to be taken to school, and it is a Chromebook that meets requirements or a laptop, that is acceptable as well.
The $300 over 3 years covers the Chromebook, insurance and a case, and ensures the student will have a device that works seamlessly with district technology requirements. School districts all over the country are moving to Chromebooks since they are perfect for student needs: they have the tools students require; a long battery life; and they are easy to manage. Since they do not have a hard drive, they last longer and are less prone to needing repairs.
During the first three years of the program, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) will continue in grades 10-12. As next year’s 7th graders become sophomores in 2019-20, the program will be evaluated to determine if it is working or if there is a better system.
In K-6, the district will continue to purchase and refresh Chromebooks to support an appropriate number of computers per grade level at each elementary.
A technology fee of $10 is being added for grades K-12 (except for those in the 7-9 Chromebook program, where it is already included).
The planned technology will allow for a higher level of personalized learning and student differentiation. To achieve this, staff members will receive ongoing professional development through a variety of resources.
The new technology is more than needed to meet today’s curricular requirements and help our students prepare for the future. With the current financial forecast, we are not projected to require a levy until 2021, based on extremely conservative numbers. The worst the additional technology could do is move this up a year to 2020, but this is not a given.