As students head back to the classroom this week, many will see more technology in school than ever before.
It's not just new technology that parents and children will see. Districts throughout the region spent the summer shoring up buildings in time to welcome students back this week, and some districts will see new or expanded programs.
Prekindergartners will go to school for a full day for the first time in Cheektowaga Central. A newly merged elementary school will open in
Even policies for cellphones and electronic cigarettes are getting updates in some schools.
Eden has updated its rules to clarify that e-cigarettes will be confiscated and not returned if found on a student. Previously, the devices were banned from school, but parents could arrange to get them back once they were taken away from a student.
"We thought it was important to get some language in our code of conduct that addressed that, because it's an increasing issue in schools today," said
Districts across the state have worked to update their policies in recent years to deal with electronic cigarettes as their popularity has grown. Administrators at
"Certainly, it's a new and growing area for school districts to have to manage," said
That's the case in Cleveland Hill, where the district will test a new policy that will allow high school students to use cellphones in school with teacher and parent permission. A letter describing the program to parents emphasized that, with guidance about when and where to use cellphones, the new policy would help students "become more aware of the proper place and proper time to be engaged."
"It is incumbent upon us to let these kids use the devices," said
Tracking buses by GPS
Students in Williamsville Central Schools will see brand new buses the first day of school. Parents and administrators will notice new technology on the vehicles.
Each new bus will be equipped with cameras and Global Positioning Systems. Administrators will be able to monitor bus locations in real time and use data to track bus routes over time.
"We're able to better understand what's going right and if there's something that needs to be corrected," said
The new buses are owned and operated by the district's new transportation contractor, STA Transportation, which signed a five-year contract with the district earlier this year. Later this fall,
"They can get an understanding on those bad days in the wintertime if the bus is a little late, 'Well, here's where it is,'" Maturski said.
Some school districts across the region will also be handing out more iPads to students this fall.
In Sweet Home, where the district last year issued every sixth- and ninth-grader an iPad, the district will expand its one-tablet-to-one-student program to all sixth- through ninth-graders as it shifts from a traditional paper-based classroom setting to a digital experience, said Superintendent
About 1,800 students will be assigned an iPad this year. As teachers become more comfortable with the devices, they will use them to conduct lessons in new ways. For example, he said, some teachers might take a "flipped classroom" approach, where students are assigned to watch a video lecture before class so they are ready to discuss and research a topic when they are with the teacher and fellow students.
Students also will begin to see more classroom material available on tablets, including supplements for textbooks. Part of the advantage of tablets, Day said, is that students can learn how to research and make sense of original source documents now available online.
"The days of the paper textbook are numbered," Day said.
"It's not a toy," Fabiatos said. "It's a tool to empower the students, to enrich the learning."
It's not just iPads in classrooms. Some districts are also exploring distributing Chromebooks and Android devices to students as they try to determine the best way to use technology in schools.
"The number of handheld devices that are purchased through our services has increased exponentially," said Sciolino, who helps districts navigate technology upgrades through
Students in some area districts will find a greater focus on career programs once they head back to school -- and a longer commitment to staying in high school.
Districts across the state, including
The program is aimed at students interested in pursuing a career in health technologies, including surgical, radiology and dietetic technicians.
The state awarded grants to launch the programs in each of the state's 16 economic development zones. The effort underscores a greater push to get students better prepared for college and future careers.
That program will offer students opportunities to study auto technology, welding and machine tool technology.
Students in several area districts may notice more of their littlest classmates wandering around the halls, as a number of schools expand their pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs.
The expansion comes with a state grant aimed at expanded early learning opportunities.
Some students heading back to school this week also will see new school entrances, bus loops and parking lots, which were part of construction projects in several districts, including in
One of the most visible capital projects is a new athletic complex at
The district is already planning a grand-opening event
"This is a huge source of pride for our students," said
email: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org News Staff Reporter
(c)2014 The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.)
Visit The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.) at www.buffalonews.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services