Duneland Schools IT
Director Kevin Wilson updated the Duneland School Board on technology use
throughout the corporation at its meeting Monday night.
This year Wilson
said his department will be refocusing IT support positions more toward
helping the end user of devices, rolling out online registration that will
enable single-site registration, and implementing iPads for students in
kindergarten, first grade, seventh grade, and eighth grade. Wilson said
iPads were given to students from second to sixth grade last year and have
worked well as a way to supplement lessons with the help of three technology
integration specialists who advise teachers how to use the new technology
and how to judge where other activities excel more.
Kristin Kroeger asked how the devices have held up, and Wilson responded
that roughly 2,600 iPads were given out last year, and less than five
percent have been damaged. The iPads, which cost $299 each, come with a
drop-proof case that costs $100.
got a Common School Fund loan to pay for the devices last year and is on
schedule to pay it off by 2021 or 2022, according to Duneland Chief
Financial Officer Lynn Kwilasz. Until those loans are paid off, parents will
not be responsible for the costs of school-provided devices. Kroeger said
that the Board needs to hear about the sustainability of funding for new
technology programs and what the future costs for parents could be. “That
requires some further discussion,” she said.
Board Member Ron
Stone, for his part, expressed concern about the financial and educational
costs of using so much technology. “They say kids are on screens four to six
hours a day. I think it’s just too much. That’s all they seem to want to
do,” he said. Stone also noted that the cost of iPads for families with
several children could get “ridiculous.” Wilson and Kwilasz said that a fee
for mobile devices could eventually replace the fee for textbooks as digital
books are phased in. Also, a device will follow the same student for its
lifetime, so the cost would be divided across years of use.
Superintendent Dr. Ginger Bolinger added that, regarding funding, it is yet
to be decided if high school students will get devices through the school.
“When we’ve talked to students, a lot of them have said ‘Yeah I’d rather
bring my own device,’” she said. Wilson is waiting for input from CHS
students on providing devices for them. One of the things he asked is
whether the students would prefer iPads or Chrome Books.
Kroeger added that
no matter what, there must be policy changes: “Before school starts we need
an updated mobile device policy. I’ve been saying that for two years. This
is the year.”
technology projects include Wifi on buses, so students can work and study on
their way to and from school, and the MyDistrict360 tool, which helps
teachers keep track of important district statistics like attendance trends
and college and career preparedness among students. The bus Wifi will start
on seven buses for a testing phase.
The Board approved
Wilson and Kwilasz to apply for another Common School Fund loan for present
and future technology costs. The loan, if awarded, would be $500,000 and has
an interest rate that hovers around 1 percent each year. It can be repaid on
a three or five-year schedule, Kwilasz said.
In other business,
the Board approved the purchase of four 78-passenger Type C buses, three
66-passenger Type C buses, one 14-passenger Type A bus, and one Starcraft
special purpose vehicle from Midwest Transit out of Kankakee, Ill. With the
trade in value on the vehicles these will replace, the total cost came to
$643,505, well short of the 2018 estimate of $826,130 in the bus replacement
Manager Cathy Forszt reports that the buses will be equipped with improved
1080hp high definition cameras that look down into the seats instead of only
seeing students from the shoulders up. “We will also be able to download the
videos directly to our office without going out to the bus barn to pull the
hard drive,” Forszt said.