By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
Although the high school’s one-to-one laptop program drew concern from some CCS board members, they approved purchase of new Apple Macs at last week’s meeting.
On a 9-0 vote, the board voted to spend $133,400 for the 115 MacBook Pro laptops, which will go to next year’s freshman and sophomore classes and all high school teachers.
Rather than purchasing 300 new computers for all high school students at one time, with last week’s purchase, the board’s technology committee recommended starting a rotating replacement program both for students and teachers.
For the 2014-15 year, incoming freshmen and elementary staff will receive new laptops. After that, freshmen will have new ones each year, and graduating seniors would be offered the chance to purchase theirs.
The agenda item brought forth some discussion on success of the program.
Board member Sheila Stromberger, whose been vocal in the past that students aren’t using them enough in classes, asked if the facilities committee discussed not continuing the program, and having a check-out program if needed for class instead rather than purchasing everyone a laptop.
Committee member Jeff Olsen said they did discuss a check-out system, but felt it wasn’t feasible.
“I just think there are enough kids who don’t use them in their classes and we haven’t eliminated the need to carry textbooks,” in the eight years CCS has had the program, Stromberger said.
“I’m having a hard time seeing us continue it in the same fashion we’ve been and not seeing them utilized to the potential they should be,” she added.
“They need to be used more in the classroom; I think there are kids who don’t use them in any of their classes,” she said, “so, I don’t know why we are providing this.”
Supt. Brad Schoeppey said if any new textbooks are purchased in the future, they will be in digital format. In his first year as superintendent here, he also said he sees the laptops being used all the time.
Several board members felt it was the job of the administration and teachers to make sure they are being used as much as possible.
“I’m not ready to scrap it, but the administration needs to take the lead on this,” Olsen said.
Supt. Schoeppey said they are also looking at increasing the contract of CCS technology consultant Paul Ekberg (from .6 to .8 FTE), to spend more time working with teachers on using them more in the classroom.
The purchase from Apple Inc., was approved on a 9-0 vote.
Less 1:30 outs in 2013-14; two weeks at Christmas
Next year’s school calendar has a few changes, notably fewer 1:30 p.m. dismissals and a full two-week break over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday.
Next year, there are five 1:30 p.m. dismissals at the end of the quarters/semesters and before the Thanksgiving break, compared to nine in 2012-13.
Two complete weeks for Christmas vacation are in the calendar from Dec. 23 through Jan. 5.
School will start this fall on Aug. 21 and concludes May 22, 2014. Graduation will be May 17, 2014.
The board’s calendar committee made recommendations with input from a teachers.
Other school board business
- A staff committee gave a presentation on the “Reading Wonders” program, with a conclusion that a change be considered to improve student performance. The Reading Mastery (RM) program has been used at CCS the past four years, and there continues to be some support among staff for continuing with that program, now that teachers can make adjustments to it. Reading committee member Tonya Olsen agreed there are two factions—those who want to continue using RM and those who want something new. Board member Stromberger said it’s frustrating that they were “sold” on RM and spent a lot of time and money on it, and after four years, a new program is being suggested. Supt. Schoeppey said the school is seeing some good progress in reading scores, but “do we continue to tweak Reading Mastery or go with one we don’t have to?” No action was taken.
- The possibility of building a new “bare-bones” practice gym/facility nearer the school on East 9th St., came up during a facilities committee report from Supt. Schoeppey. He suggested the board make a decision on future use of the Wellington gym, which will require some maintenance dollars soon for the roof, boilers and gym floor. Schoeppey said he’d gather some prices on the facility for the board to review. A sidewalk and the student parking lot were also discussed.
- After a closed session, School Nurse Angie Paisley was hired for the 2013-14 school year on an increased salary of $39,000, up 5.4 percent from her current $37,000 annually. The board also met an hour and 15 minutes in another closed session to discuss personnel with no action taken.