Thursday June 23, 2011
Should every upper elementary, middle, and high school student have a laptop computer? School District officials sought the School Board’s authorization to take a giant step in that direction at the Board’s June 15 meeting. At the meeting, Board members declined Superintendent John Everitt’s invitation to “catch up to life in the 21st Century,” but Everitt’s invitation may be accepted at a special meeting called for June 22.
Everitt, Assistant Superintendent David Young (who becomes Superintendent on July 1), Business Manager John Stewart, Information Technology Educators Steve Webster and Kristen Courcelle had sought the Board’s approval of a $451,391 bid provided by Municipal Leasing Consultants for First Niagara Bank of New York for computer lease purchase financing. The amount would be repaid over four years at an interest rate of 3.54 percent. Under the District’s one-to-one computer initiative, laptop computers (508 in all) would be provided to students in the 8th and 9th grades, as well as to those tuition students from the Grand Isle and Georgia Districts.
Board members raised a number of questions about the request, but underscored that they were not rejecting the entreaty. Some questions posed were:
· How do we know one-to-one works?
· How do we monitor individual computer use?
· What about the “equity” issue, given that some students have wireless access at home and others do not?
· Will this initiative help make the rich richer and the poor poorer?
Board Clerk Elizabeth Fitzgerald asked for “the top five reasons to go one-to-one.” Other Board members wanted specific information about where one-to-one was being used and how it was working. Board members emphasized that they needed further information so that they could intelligently and accurately respond to questions from community members.
According to Superintendent Everitt, the first year (FY11 and FY12) of a five-year plan to proceed includes the following elements:
· Provide all 9th grade students with a laptop computer and provide substantial professional development to the grade 9 Humanities teacher teams;
· Provide all 8th grade students with a laptop computer and continue work with middle school teachers;
· Maintain a two-to-one netbook ratio in grade 7 and continue to support and expand project-based learning opportunities;
· Provide laptops and professional development to teachers of students with laptops;
· Provide laptop computers to tuition students in grades 10-12. Explore online learning opportunities for these students while they ride the bus to and from school.
Assistant Superintendent Young said that he and his staff would provide the Board with additional information, and the Board scheduled a June 22 meeting to further consider the invitation to advance the School District toward one-to-one computer use.
SOURCE: Bill Wargo, Correspondent