Archive for Thursday, September 17, 2009

Board talks technology

September 17, 2009

The Basehor-Linwood School District may have some cutting-edge equipment in its classrooms in the next few years.

At Monday night’s Basehor-Linwood Board of Education meeting, district director of technology Michael Kravets discussed with the board members the possibility of purchasing interactive white boards and equipment that allowed students to manipulate the image on the board without leaving their desks.

The white board, referred to as a smart board, would replace standard white boards in each classroom and would open new opportunities for student-teacher presentations. Teachers could project pictures and text onto the board, and students could answer questions and provide feedback that appeared on the screen using hand-held devices called ActivSlates. ActivSlates also allow the instructor to alter the subject matter on the board from anywhere in the room.

Along with this new technology, students would receive remote devices called ActivExpressions, which allow them to work through lessons electronically. Their answers are sent immediately to the teacher, who can then provide instant attention if a student is having trouble.

The district is considering two companies that offer the new equipment: SMART Technologies and Promethean.

“We have found Promethean to be far superior,” Sandra Guidry, director of curriculum and instruction, said to the board members.

Grades third through fifth would receive the white boards and ActivExpressions, and grades sixth through 12th would receive all three pieces. Guidry said teachers at the elementary level were more comfortable with their students walking up to the board to answer questions rather than doing so from their desks with the ActivSlates.

“The slates would be a new skill,” Guidry said. “We think students in middle school and high school are more developmentally ready for that.”

Board members have talked about buying the equipment at several previous meetings, and Superintendent David Howard said Monday it was nearly time to decide.

“We’ve come to a point where we either need to make a decision or keep talking,” Howard said. “Either way, we need to move forward.”

Also on Monday night, the board:

• Heard a presentation on career pathways at the high school. The pathways allow students to focus on specific career options and be better prepared for college and the workforce.

• Discussed the 2009 assessments and ACT scores. Basehor-Linwood’s average composite ACT score dropped from 21.6 to 21.5. Guidry said some students might be taking the test too early and/or not retaking the test to receive a better score. She said the district was working on better study options and was trying to encourage testing during junior and senior years as well as retaking the test several times.

• Heard a construction report from construction supervisor Chris Claflin. Asphalt for the playground at the new intermediate school is going down this week, the windows at the middle school are nearly complete, and construction at Linwood Elementary is nearly finished.

• Discussed using PCI Building Services for school janitorial services.

• Heard a report from Howard. He said the district had received calls from several parents expressing frustration about the newly implemented bus fee for students living less than 2.5 miles from school. Howard said some leeway was being granted to those families who had not heard about the change, and that he understood the complaints, but the district had to implement the fee.

• Approved, 7-0, purchase of a new intercom system at Glenwood Ridge Elementary in the amount of $18,545 and for the new intermediate school in the amount of $32,513.

• Approved, 7-0, continuation of an agreement with AllofE, the district’s software provider.

• Approved, 7-0, Board of Education policies KH and GAF.

• Approved, 7-0, the appointment of Steven Massing, Melissa Staresinic, Kerry Stumbough and Mary Bohnert.

• Approved, 7-0, the resignation of Kevin Vincent.

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