‘A machine for every student’
The Washington school board heard an update on how the 1:1 program will work at the middle school, approved the technology plan for next year, and approved a preschool merger with Washington Preschool at their meeting Wednesday evening.
Jeff Brock, technology director for the Washington Community School District (WCSD), and John TeBockhorst, assistant director of technology, updated the school board about the launch of the 1:1 program at the middle school next fall.
Brock and TeBockhorst told board members the middle school would use Google Chromebooks, as they do at Lincoln Elementary School.
“We’re going to purchase a machine for every student,” Brock said. “They will not take it home. It’s going to stay in the classroom.”
The student will check out the Chromebooks at the beginning of the day during their seminar class, Brock said. At the end of the day the Chromebooks will be checked back in. This was recommended by other school districts that have a 1:1 program for middle schoolers.
Brock and TeBockhorst also updated board members about the summer projects they will be doing.
“Up on the top of the list is the biggest one and that’s replacing staff computers,” Brock said. “We’ve got a four-year rotation that we’ve got on those, and I think it’s one of the most important pieces of our technology.”
Other summer projects include replacing the high school business lab, upgrading the wireless network at the middle school and cabling in June, replacing the lock and camera system at Stewart Elementary, back up the management server, redo the cabling in the Middle School Gateway To Technology lab, and train staff on a program called Schoology, which assists teachers with classroom management.
Another thing Brock and TeBockhorst will be working on this summer is the district’s connection to the Iowa Communications Network (ICN). Brock said the current connection is at the current Kirkwood building. However, Kirkwood will be selling or getting rid of that building after its move to the new building next fall.
The ICN’s new fiber location will be at the Iowa National Guard Armory, but Brock said he hasn’t heard from ICN about what needs to be done to move the district to that location. He plans on following up with ICN officials and hopes to get an answer from them soon.
Brock and TeBockhorst asked the board to approve purchasing new staff MacBooks and iMacs from Apple for $198,288.96 and purchasing iMacs for the high school business lab for $32,407.02. A motion was made for the purchases. The motion was approved unanimously. Board members Patty Roe and Ericka Raber were absent.
The school board heard from Superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen about the preschool merger between the district and the United Methodist Church’s preschool. The board of the preschool at the church approached the Washington Community School District a couple of weeks ago about merging, Jorgensen said.
“I believe they have five students signed up [for the 4-year-old class and five for the 3-year-old class] for next year,” Jorgensen said. “We have a waiting list of 14 or 15, somewhere around there. What they have proposed is basically they would donate to us all of the supplies and equipment, things they have purchased for their preschool. They have also given us their allocation for next year based on their enrollment. The only thing they asked of us is to take their staff.”
The staff at Washington Preschool has the qualifications the district looks for with preschool teachers, early childhood education endorsements and special education endorsements, Jorgensen said.
“In my opinion it’s kind of a no-brainer,” Jorgensen said.
A motion was made to approve the merger. The motion was approved unanimously.
Other items discussed at the school board meeting included:
having a school board retreat in June to discuss updating the facilities plan. The meeting would be open to the public and no action would be taken, but Jorgensen said there is a building that would need to be addressed soon;
and learned 70 students attended the ASSURE Center’s open house Wednesday evening. Veta Thode said the open house didn’t start until 5:30 p.m. but students were there at 5:10 and didn’t leave until after 7 p.m. The open house was well received by the former students, and a former principal even attended.
The next school board meeting is scheduled for June 11 at 7 p.m. at the administration building.