Chesterton Tribune



IPad integration plan rolling out at Duneland Schools

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Duneland School officials are eyeing the next steps in implementing its one-to-one initiative, which aims to provide every student with an iPad device.

At Monday’s Duneland School Board meeting, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Jim Goetz said that idea is to have new iPads in all the second grade through six grade classrooms in the 2017-18 school year. Google Chromebooks that were purchased and currently being used for third and fourth grades in Duneland will be given to seventh and eighth graders at Chesterton Middle School so they can work with technology.

Goetz said the district technology committee met in April and after some discussion, recommended that the schools “move towards a shift in our thought process to the kind of device that we are going to utilize,” specifically a new version of the iPad.

The devices would have students complete their lessons with a digital platform rather than using printed textbooks.

In the school year that follows, the goal is to have iPads for every student in grades K-8. By the 2019-2020 school year, he said the hope is for the high school to have their own devices but time will tell what that device will be, said Goetz.

“The device that we are looking at in the high school probably doesn’t even exist yet,” he said.

School Board President Kristin Kroeger said she was concerned about how the change would affect fifth and sixth grade teachers.

In the audience, Westchester Intermediate 5th Grade teacher Bobbi Hall said teachers were initially “shocked” to learn they would be using iPads but after hearing the views from the technology committee, they are now “excited” about the transition.

Administrators of the Middle School said they are preparing to adapt their curriculum to the Chromebooks, a type of laptop device that many schools use. “We’ll be happy to have any device that is given to us,” said CMS Principal Mike Megysi.

Duneland Technology Director Kevin Wilson said the main difference between the two devices is on an iPad you can download apps to use offline while the Chromebooks require an internet connection nearly all the time as a browser-based device.

“We have more ability with the iPad for the students to create content,” said Wilson.

Goetz said next year the iPads would stay in the classroom but later students could be allowed to check them out to take home.

Kroger was also interested in how the Chromebooks have been working in grades 3 and 4.

Liberty Elementary Principal Christy Jarka and Bailly Elementary Principal Kevin Zeck said they have made efforts to use the technology in their curriculum.

“I see more consistency now. I think we are still trying to figure out the best way of how to make (technology) more meaningful in the classroom,” Zeck said.

Goetz asked the board how they would like to proceed as he hopes to purchase the iPads for next school year. Kroeger and the other board members said they would like more time to consider the plan and how it could be supported financially.

“I don’t personally like taking a loan out without addressing the sustainability of the program. I think we have some work we need to do with this,” Kroeger said.

Board Vice-President John Marshall said that the board has been wanting to be a one-to-one school.

“We are all invested in this. We want e-learning and taking the units home. I’d like to phase it in. We just haven’t had the chance to talk about how the financing would work,” he said.

The board hopes to have a decision soon but it has been occupied with the task of finding the next superintendent, Kroeger said.

Superintendent search

Updating further on the process to pick Schools Superintendent David Pruis’ replacement, Kroeger said the board is interviewing the remaining three candidates for the position.

There was a total of 36 applicants and the search consultants narrowed the list down to six. The board met to interview those candidates the third week of April and will spend more time talking the three they’re still considering.

There will be more meetings this month as the search wraps up, she said.

Pruis’ last day will be June 30 and the new superintendent will start July 1.

Legislative bills

In another update, Marshall said he is tracking 16 different legislative bills that could have some impact on Duneland.

The Indiana General Assembly session has ended but there are a few bills that are still in committee or on their way to the Governor’s desk.

Three of the bills getting most of Marshall’s attention include Senate Bill 35 that gives school corporations the ability to evaluate teachers with objective measures of student achievement. The bill passed on first reading and is still in committee which may make minor modifications to it, he said.

SB 409 signed by Governor Holcomb states that collective bargaining in a school corporation may not begin until Sept. 15 instead of the previous date of Aug. 1.

The other bill is SB 34, passed on first reading but not yet signed, which requires background checks for all school employees, to be conducted every five years. Marshall said there will likely be changes made to the final version of the bill.

“Things are going to move fast and furious before July 1,” he said.



Posted 5/2/2017





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