By Jean Lotus
The D91 school board voted, Oct. 10, to spend $69,250 to purchase 250 Google Chromebook devices for use by students at Forest Park Middle School. The decision is a result of the district's "1:1 technology learning resources initiative."
According to Ed Brophy, assistant superintendent of operations, the teachers at FPMS have all received three training sessions to "prepare for the deployment" of the devices.
Brophy pointed out the new Common Core Standards (CCS) require teachers to provide instruction that incorporates student use of technology tools.
The board watched a video on how teachers can keep track on their screen of every screen in their classroom. Brophy said the benefits of students having their own devices included: students being able to grade each other's work, students collaborating on presentations, producing writing samples, using online textbooks, using the Cornell note-taking strategy software and taking part in online discussions (typing their responses into a class-shared document.) Teachers are using the Chrome books to administer MAP testing as well as learning checkups and quizzes, Brophy said.
Sean Blaylock was the only board member who voted against the purchase. "Love the initiative, still not sold on the hardware. Nay," he said.
Later Blaylock clarified that when the Chromebooks were proposed over the summer, he was concerned that the technology might become obsolete sooner because hardware was an area outside Google's core competency. He said he would have preferred Apple or Microsoft products because he was fearful support for Chromebooks might be discontinued. He also was concerned the Chromebooks could not integrate with other technological tools, such as the Promethean Boards already purchased by the district. He said if students took the machines home they would need to have wi-fi.
"If you don't have Internet access at home you can't work," he said.
Betsy Ross addition discussed
Architect Craig Siepka of Wight and Co. gave the school board an introduction to the remodeling of cramped Betsy Ross School at the Oct. 10 meeting. The district's oldest and smallest building has put two temporary classroom trailers in the playground to house additional office space.
Siepka showed board members layouts of the school and areas where additional space could be added but said the company will not have any proposals for several weeks until they can meet with school personnel. Construction will be completed before school starts in the fall of 2014, he promised.
Board members agreed that playground space was a priority and, answering board questions, Siepka said a third floor on the building would not be possible for a school housing kindergarten through second-graders.
Siepka and Superintendent Lou Cavallo said they hoped to have actual proposals by the November board meeting.