The discussion about technology came early in a meeting that also addressed next school year's budget and calendar. More than twenty people attended, including a large contingent of teachers.
Division administrators recently decided to switch gears on their major roll out of personal technology for students, announced over the summer. Instead of getting laptops for students, they instead will look to purchase tablets that come with Windows software and work with detachable keyboards.
The reason for the switch is because the state of
Division technology director
In response, one teacher pointed out teachers in the division recently had been given laptops, and wondered whether the student and teacher technology would mesh well.
Another questioned whether students were ready for the responsibility, whether parents would have to pay for lost and broken devices and whether division leaders had a plan in place to measure the effect of the devices on student achievement.
Childress and Superintendent
Childress said the division is likely to set up a self-insurance system for the devices.
He said the tentative idea would be that the first time a child breaks or loses a device, the school division would pay for a replacement. If it happened a second time, the school division and the family would split the cost.
School administrators didn't have a direct answer to the question about measuring the effect of the devices, although Childress said that was something that could be talked about further.
Brabrand said that while data is mixed on the effect of such technology on student achievement, the technology has been proven effective in helping improve school discipline and attendance, two major goals for the division.
The discussion about tablets took up much of Thursday's meeting, but school leaders also took some time for feedback about next year's school budget and calendar.
Teachers and school staff members voiced frustration with current pay and called for raises. A couple said inadequate pay for substitute teachers is making it hard to find substitutes and forcing teachers to use their planning periods substituting for other teachers.
Some of the participants also had questions about proposed changes to the school calendar. Brabrand is recommending the division add at least one, and possibly two intersession weeks to the school calendar. The intersession weeks would provide time for students who need it to receive remediation, while other students get vacation time.
The school division is holding a third budget forum for staff members only on Tuesday.
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