Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1000654

Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 18, 2014

Upgrades needed

School board receives annual technology report
By Xiomara Levsen | May 10, 2013
Washington School District technology coordinator Jeff Brock examines a laptop computer in the technology department’s new work area in the district office. He said the work area is a big help to the department. He said with the new space, the district was able to get rid of its storage shed.

At Wednesday evening’s Washington Community School District (WCSD) board meeting, the district’s technology department spoke about plans for upgrades in the district this summer.
Jeff Brock, technology director for the Washington Community School District (WCSD), and John TeBockhorst, assistant technology director in the school district, said that improvements still need to be made as far as upgrades go.
The upgrades they would like to see happen this summer include purchasing 90 new Chromebooks, which are Web-based laptops that are supported through the Google browser. Sixty of them would be used at Lincoln to replace the mobile carts and 30 would be used at the middle school.
“Originally, in our plans we had planned to replace the Stewart and Lincoln mobile carts,” Brock said.
However, Brock said other school districts are purchasing Chromebooks for students and teachers to use.
He also said he did a survey on what applications the teachers at Lincoln were using the mobile carts for and the Chromebooks could be used for that.
“We can do all of this and we’re still saving about $25,000 from what our original plan was,” he said.
“You mean the original plan of just replacing being just replacing the laptops?” School board member Stephanie Ellingson said.
Brock said yes.
“One of the things we like about the Chromebook is that, once it’s set up and configured, we don’t have to touch it,” he said. “There’s no maintenance and there’s no updates. That is all automatic.”
TeBockhorst said another nice thing about the Chromebooks is they all use Google accounts.
“When you turn it on you can log right into that,” he said. “Does a student get the same one? It doesn’t matter because everything is stored in the cloud (a Web-based storage structure). They put their name and password in and their desktop comes up and it’s exactly the same settings they had before.”
School board member Heidi Vittetoe asked what type of interaction the teachers have with their students while they’re using a Chromebook.
“I think at the lower grade level there’s a combination,” Brock said. “It just depends on the teacher.”
Brock doesn’t think the whole district is going to go paperless. At the elementary school level it is hard to go paperless because of the classes that are being taught, such as art.
“At the high school level with the 1:1, that is really changing,” TeBockhorst said. “It’s on a trend upward, but it’s a slow pace to get everybody there.”
The Chromebooks wasn’t the only project the school board was asked to consider. The technology department would like to purchase 35 more iPads for Stewart Elementary. This would put one in every classroom, Brock said.
The total cost for the Chromebooks and the iPads would be $50,000.
Other projects in their plan include upgrading the server blade, which would cost $15,000. The technology department would purchase another server with greater memory and processing power.
Brock also asked the board to consider the camera updates to Lincoln Elementary, despite the fact the district didn’t receive the grant money from the Washington County Riverboat Foundation (WCRF).  This cost would be $45,000.
The board didn’t make any decisions about the technology department’s proposals Wednesday evening.

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