After months of talks, 1-to-1 learning here

Posted July 20, 2011 at 12:44 pm


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After nearly eight months of school tours, public forums and discussions, Boyden-Hull school district board members approved the 1:1 laptop initiative at its regular meeting on Monday, July 11.

The measure passed by a 4-1 vote, with board president Mark Warntjes casting the only “no” vote on the matter.

Warntjes was still concerned with how quickly the district is proceeding on 1:1 learning.

One-to-one means every student receives a laptop for the purpose of learning. Other area school districts with this program include West Sioux, Spirit Lake and Unity Christian High School in Orange City.

“It’s an exciting time,” Boyden-Hull school superintendent Steve Grond said. “We’re going to use the power of technology. It’s going to be an amazing tool for us. But, we have to keep in mind, it’s just a tool. It allows us to move beyond the boundaries of time and location.”

Of course, the adjustment process won’t be easy.

But, certified personnel are already becoming more accustomed with the new computers. Teachers and staff participated in Apple-based computer training on Monday and Tuesday, July 11-12.

“Eighty to eighty-five percent of the teachers were there,” Grond reported. “Training went from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. both days. They covered different parts of the Apple programs, the I-Life suite, Garage Band, Apple I Works.

“I was impressed with the degree the teachers are excited,” Grond added. “I think our teachers are up for the challenge.”

Teachers and students alike will together throughout the process, especially understanding the nuances of computer operating systems.

New servers — from CDW — have been ordered and will be in place to handle the demands of new technology. On Monday, July 18, Moodle training took place.

Moodle is an open course management system. It’s a virtual learning environment in which educators create online websites for their students.

Teacher computer training will be a continuous process, especially during Professional Learning Communities (PLC) Wednesdays.

“We will grow with it and we will get the students brought up to speed,” Grond stated.

At first, the 1:1 program will be seventh- through 12th-graders. Laptops will be given to these students during the final week of August, Grond reported.

The Boyden-Hull Education Foundation is purchasing 60 additional MacBooks for fifth- and sixth-graders. Each sixth-grade student will have a laptop to use, but it will remain in school. Fifth-graders will use one cart and will have a ratio of one laptop computer per two students.

This will give more access to the computer lab in the elementary school center to kindergarten through fourth-grade students.

The board unanimously approved a $40 electronic media fee. However, if the student and parent chooses not to bring the laptop home, he or she will not be assessed this fee.

There are also discussions a cap on fees for large families with many students in the upper grade levels.

In addition, there will be a $250 deductible in case of an accident which is not a part of the Apple Care program. Computers needed repair would be completed in a 72-hour window.

The cost of the program is $412,581.08 for the first four-year lease. That price includes professional development.

Money to pay for the computers would come from the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) and the School Infrastructure Local Option (SILO) sales tax.

In a related matter, the school district has hired Premier Communications for technology services, which will allow district technology coordinator Sandy Groom-Meeks more time to deal with matters of integration.

The contract with Premier Communications is for one year at $12,000.

Look in the Wednesday, July 27, edition of the Sioux County Index-Reporter for additional details on the high school and elementary school yearly reports and handbook changes.

COMET TAILS

• The last day to file papers to run for the school board is Thursday, Aug. 4. Joy Hurst’s spot on the board will be vacant. Rural representative Jake Ten Haken and Hull representative Aric Van Voorst will be running for their posts again.

Grond said no one has filed paperwork to run yet. The elections will take place in September. Interested parties must reside in the district they want to serve.

• The board accepted the resignation of secondary teacher associate Andreah Rygaard, who has since taken a position with Hope Haven. Interviews to replace Rygaard are slated to take place this week.

“We appreciate all the work Andreah did at the secondary building,” Grond said. “She will be missed.”

• A one-year accord between the Boyden-Hull school district and Northwest Iowa Community College was reached for jointly administered high school courses.

• The 2011-12 academic calendar was revised slightly. There will be one-half day of teacher in-service time on both Aug. 15 — the first day certified personnel are expected to report back — and May 23. It is expected test scores will be covered during the Aug. 15 session.

• Bills were approved for ceiling and tile work in the high school center. The cost was $7,763. Covenant Tile, Inc., of Brandon, S.D., is the contractor.

• There was a closed session, in accordance with Iowa Code 21.5, for the purpose of evaluating Grond’s performance.

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