Monday, February 27, 2012

West Prairie Board approves three-year technology plan

Sciota, Ill. —

West Prairie School District’s three-year technology plan, approved by the district’s board of education Thursday night, includes steps to move the district towards implementing a one-to-one digital learning program that would provide students with their own device, such as a laptop computer or iPad.

The plan, which is submitted to the Illinois State Board of Education for approval, will allow the school district to access federal E-Rate funds for lower telecommunications and Internet costs. The E-Rate program discounts range from 20 to 90 percent, depending on the cost of eligible services, the low-income level of the district and urban/rural status.

Scott Sullivan, the district’s technology coordinator, prepared the technology plan and presented some details to the board. The plan not only includes a purchasing plan for network upgrades and new hardware, but instructional goals for integrating technology in the classroom to enhance learning.

Sullivan said the district spent about $114,000 last year on network upgrades, including a new computer server, and will spend around $150,000 the next fiscal year. Network upgrades that will next be completed include new switch boxes — devices that connect computers to a network and enhance connectivity between buildings.

Sullivan said those upgrades are necessary as the district moves towards a one-on-one digital learning environment.

While the district has not yet decided what kind of device, such as an iPad or laptop computer, will be used, Sullivan said the cost will be about $2.50 per student, per day, and added that cost is comparable to what other school districts have spent to implement one-to-one digital learning programs.

He also said he doesn’t expect the district to begin looking at purchasing any devices until this summer for possible implementation in the fall, starting with the high school.

Sullivan has visited a number of other school districts, including Mendon and United, to see how they have implemented one-to-one digital devices.

“I think this is going to help us move forward,” Sullivan said about the technology plan.

Superintendent Jonathan Heerboth said students in high school agriculture teacher Corinne Galvan’s classes are already getting to experience one-to-one digital learning with their own iPads to enhance instruction.

“It’s kind of a first baby step,” Heerboth commented.

In other business Thursday night, the board:
• Accepted the resignation of Eunice Lutz, middle school principal.

• Set a special board meeting for 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, at the West Prairie Middle School in Colchester to discuss personnel matters, maintenance matters and long-range planning. The next regular board of education meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at the West Prairie High School.

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