Aug. 28--DECATUR -- The Decatur school board on Tuesday approved the purchase of 150 laptops to be used in Eisenhower and MacArthur high schools.
"The devices are going to the teachers, and this is the kickoff to professional development," said Jim Altig, director of information technology. "That's Phase I over this school year. In August 2014, we're rolling out devices at the student level. Right now, we're negotiating with Apple to get them down on the cost. This will get us off the ground and open Eisenhower with new equipment."
The laptops will replace a significant number of the desktop computers and allow teachers to do the majority of their computer work without the need for desktops, he said, and will also cut down on power consumption as the laptops can be charged overnight in teachers' homes. They have a seven-hour battery life, as will the student laptops.
Superintendent Gloria Davis said the laptops will eventually contain student textbooks, allowing for more immediate updating of information, and ushers in the 1-to-1 computing that will put Decatur "on the map" educationally.
"The students of Decatur are just going to be phenomenal with their ability to get instant information, and teachers will be working with them in the same vein," she said.
In other business, the board approved the $26.5 million budget for the Macon-Piatt Special Education District for the current fiscal year.
Several people spoke in support of Positive Behavior Intervention Systems, the districtwide discipline program that rewards students for proper behavior.
At the Aug. 6 meeting, the board tabled a decision on whether to renew Dwayne Cotton's contract with the district to serve as the resource and coordinator of the intervention system, to allow for further study on the necessity of having Cotton continue his services and consider whether the program itself is useful.
Audience speaker Tony Wilkins said less time spent on disciplinary issues means more time in the classroom. "Now is not the time to change our PBIS program," he said.
Board member Alida Graham requested quarterly budget updates, particularly in light of last spring's budget cuts, so that the board will know if the district is on track to avoid further cuts.
Davis directed Todd Covault, director of business affairs, to plan a September report and present a schedule of regular updates then.
(c)2013 the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.)
Visit the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.) at www.herald-review.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services