West Carroll Board of Education: Technology upgrades proposed, bass fishing team approved

ronPARK

staff writer

SHARING TECHNOLOGY — West Carroll second grader Jack Robison shows Board of Education members how he uses Chromebook technology in the classroom with some help from third grade teacher LeAnn Coleman.

Though no decision was made at their April 6 meeting, members of the West Carroll Board of Education are considering proposed classroom technology upgrades in the school district.

Cheryl Lambert, supervisor of instruction for grades 7-12; Sheila Brawner, district technology coordinator; and third grade teacher LeAnn Coleman gave a presentation before the board about how equipping students with Chromebook laptop computers combined with Google Classroom software could improve the quality of education for those students.

The three told how they are already using this technology in a few classrooms and how it is enriching the learning environment for both students and teachers.

Third grade students Britni Shepherd and Shea Thomas and second grader Jack Robison also participated in the presentation, showing the board how they use these computers in the classroom and sharing abouthow this technology makes it easier for them to learn.

Lambert explained how Google Classroom and Chromebooks make it easier for teachers keep up with and calculate grades and tailor lesson plans and activities toward individual student needs.

Coleman described how tests and assignments and can be taken and submitted digitally and digital textbooks can be downloaded into the system — which will decrease the need for paper, old-fashioned writing utensils, and bulky textbooks.

“The technology is where it’s at,” said Coleman.

Brawner addressed the financial side of the proposal.

“What we are asking you to consider is a three-year rollover project,” said Brawner, who explained that this would involve subscribing to Google Classroom for three years at a total cost of around $88,000 per year — approximately $74,000 for 700 student Chromebooks and another $14,000 for charging carts.

Brawner said that all the Chromebooks would come with a three-year replacement warranty, and Google Chrome would provide them with new computers and carts every three years.

By comparison, Brawner pointed out that it would cost the school district around $220,000 just to purchase 700 laptop computers for students.

Board member Mike Foster wanted to know if use of the computers would be mandatory in all classrooms and if all teachers wanted to or even knew how to utilize this technology.

“We will have a learning curve with some teachers and a learning curve with some students,” said Brawner.

“If we go in for this big a chunk, we want to make sure it’s being utilized,” said Foster.

Board Chairman Jimmy Halford said that he wanted more feedback from teachers — particularly any who might be opposed to the proposal.

After some more discussion, the board generally agreed to have all teachers in the district take an anonymous survey regarding the proposed technology upgrades before making a decision on the matter.

• • •

Board approves fishing team

The board unanimously approved the establishment of a bass fishing team as part of the district’s athletic programs.

According to board member Patrick Lindsey, who proposed the addition of a fishing team, it will not cost the school any money.

Participating students, however, would have to join a student angler association for a fee of $25, and in order to compete at the state level, every two students would have to have a sponsoring boat captain.

Lindsey said he believed that they would be able to recruit plenty of willing boat captains from among parents, grandparents, and other members of the community.

West Carroll High School Principal Dexter Williams advised the board that close to 90 students have expressed interest in taking part in a fishing team.

Board member Kyle Foster pointed out that bass fishing has become a booming sport at the college level, with a lot of big scholarships being offered.

Halford said that he was fine with it as long as there are dedicated people overseeing the program.

Lindsey pointed out that West Carroll will be the first school district in the county to establish a fishing team.

• • •

In other business, the board:

•Acknowledged the resignations of Erica Boone as high school and junior high softball coach and Leon Lyell as custodian at the elementary school.

•Approved textbook adoptions.

•Granted licensure advancement to eighth grade social studies teacher Susan Barrow, art teacher Michelle Robinson, and special education teacher Mark Yarbro.

•Tabled the matter of a request by teacher Sandy Hodges to take a group of seventh and eighth grade social studies students to Washington, D.C. during Spring Break next year. The board generally agreed that more information is needed before a decision is made.

•Approved two board policy amendments — one regarding compensation guides and contracts and another on payroll procedures — on a second and final reading.

•Gave first reading approval to a new policy dealing with proper faculty use of social media and text messaging.

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