Cassville moves to technology for each student
July 22, 2015
The Cassville Board of Education approved the third phase of the district’s 1:1 technology plan at their regular meeting on Thursday, July 16. The technology initiative strives to have one computer for every student in the intermediate, middle and high schools.
Phase three came after the first two phases were implemented in September 2014 and January 2015. The first phase provided 315 Chromebooks to students. Then, the second phase purchased 575 more for students. With the third phase, an additional 650 units will complete the 1:1 technology initiative in the intermediate, middle and high schools.
Superintendent Richard Asbill said that the laptops already in use in the Intermediate School will actually aid the primary school as well, because all older units will be moved to the younger students’ classrooms at Eunice Thomas Elementary.
According to Asbill, the district began toward 1:1 technology in 2008 when the school got an e-MINTS grant that provided laptops to the Intermediate School. Asbill said, “So, our teachers have been really progressive about the technology in the classroom already.”
The e-MINTS grant is funded through the National Center at the University of Missouri and has offered research-based development programs since 1999.
Units purchased already have been used in different classrooms and buildings according to need. Asbill stated, “The Chromebooks and laptops we already have were focused on the middle, high school and intermediate and have been prioritized by needs by classrooms, students and grade levels where they were needed most.”
The Chromebooks purchased in the three-phase system are being purchased through a three-year lease from capital funds. Asbill stated, “We started asking that local funds from Capital to be earmarked for technology funds for the last three years in anticipation of implementing this.” Each group of Chromebooks is paid for through an annual lease payment. Phase one is $67,228 annually, phase two is $74,801 and phase three is $93,457. In total, the district is paying just under $240,000 annually for the next three years to pay for Chromebooks to be in each of the three upper buildings for each student.
At the end of three years, the school will then consider a new lease agreement with newer Chromebooks. This time, the district chose a bid from Lenovo for their units with a three-year lease. Asbill said, “At the end of the three-year lease, we will renew that because the technology will change so much, we’ll want new units.”
The last 650 Chromebooks should be delivered by the first week of August and ready before students begin school this fall. All of the Chromebooks are cloud-based, so purchasing software will not be an issue. Asbill said, “Technology is changing so fast, the Chromebooks offer users a different way to look at and access information when it’s cloud-based.” Cloud servers allow users to access all of their files and programs anywhere they have an Internet connection, regardless of what device they are on.
By keeping current with technology, students are better prepared for the future. Shelley Henderson, business teacher and technology liaison, said, “The teachers who have Chromebooks are using them on a daily basis. They love the students ability to research topics and create projects. There are many free resources available on the internet that teachers are utilizing. Previously, those teachers without Chromebooks had to sign up for computer labs and sometimes wait for weeks for a lab to be available.
“Another advantage for students is in the area of testing. Students are expected to take standardized tests on computers. Those students without computers at home are at a disadvantage. Using devices everyday should relieve some of the test anxiety students have felt when taking these tests on machines they weren’t familiar with.”
The current plan is to have the Chromebooks assigned to each teacher and classroom for use in the classroom. However, for high school students, that plan may change.
Henderson said, “We would like to be able to send the Chromebooks home with high school students the second semester of this year. We have some inventory and logistic issues to work out to insure a smooth transition.”
She added, “This si a learning experience for teachers and students. We have offered many professional development opportunities to provide training for teachers on using Google. We also have additional staff to provide support for teachers and students.
“For the first time, kindergarten through fifth grade students will have Computers as a special class. We are very excited to provide this opportunity. They will learn how to use correct keyboarding techniques and also digital citizenship.”
Chromebooks should be up and operational by the time students begin classes on August 13.