During Tuesday’s School Board meeting, the Board of Directors approved of the district’s plan to provide every seventh and eighth grade student with a Chromebook.
The implementation of the 1:1 Chromebook plan follows a successful pilot program at Alderwood Middle School where all students were issued district-owned Chromebooks last September.
Executive Director of Student Learning Lara Drew reported that the pilot program has been a success and that there was significant interest in Chromebooks among the other middle schools in the district.
“There is very strong support in moving forward in all the other middle schools,” Drew said.
The district will need to purchase about 2,000 more Chromebooks to implement the 1:1 Chromebook plan for the 2015-16 school year. Because Chromebooks are significantly less expensive than Windows PCs, funds from the 2012 Tech Levy will cover the costs.
Staff indicated that the district feels comfortable it has the resources to handle the two grade levels and the three additional middle schools.
Boardmembers praised the district’s plan to get technology into the hands of its students. Boardmember Ann McMurray noted that at her workplace, employees must have higher tech skills.
“This seems like a prudent way to start,” McMurray said. “I am for spending the tech money this way.”
Boardmember April Nowak agreed and added that in today’s world students need to have technology skills. Nowak noted that job seekers have to go online in order to apply for many jobs these days.
The district also is considering a 1:1 pilot Chromebook project at one of its four high schools for the 2016-17 school year. District staff, however, noted that the challenges at high schools are quite different than at middle schools.
A proposed timeline would have possible implementation of 1:1 Chromebook in high schools for the 2017-18 school year and at elementary schools in 2018-19.
Drew also briefed the Board on a new online system for tracking professional development for certificated staff. Currently, a large amount of paperwork is involved in keeping track of professional development.
The district is switching to an electronic system that manages the professional development information. The costs are being paid out of the Tech Levy. Drew indicated the electronic program will be rolled out this spring in some pilot schools. The district expects to see great efficiency and to see labor cost savings with the elimination of the paper system. The ongoing costs are less than $6,000 per year.
– The Board heard a report from the Foundation for Edmonds Schools on its various programs.
The Foundation is funding a two-year grant for after-school study tables at the district’s four middle schools. The study tables, which are available three days a week, have drawn from 20 to 80 students.
“It has been exciting to see and it continues to grow,” said Mark Madison, Foundation Board Member and District Career Technical Education Director. “It’s become a very successful program.”
The Foundation also has been providing financial support with testing fees ($7,433/541 students) and college in the high school tuition ($5,700/57 partial scholarships). The Foundation is projecting it will fund 120 scholarships by the end of the school year in June.
The Foundation’s Nourishing Network provided 58 holiday meals/baskets and 180 weekend meals to students in need. Next week, Whole Foods will be presenting a check for $11,900 and the recent Mosaic Choir/North Sound Christian concerts helped raise $56,000, including a $4,000 match from Campbell Nelson.
The Foundation recently distributed 140 surplus computers to families and is planning a second distribution event this spring.
The Foundation also will be involved in the Read Across America event on Feb. 28 and the district’s STEM Expo on March 31 at Mountlake Terrace High School. Close to 500 students are expected to participate in the STEM Expo, up significantly from the average attendance of 270. The Foundation will be holding its annual breakfast on May 15 at Lynnwood High School. Students from the school’s culinary arts program will be cooking breakfast.
-The Board formed a sub-committee consisting of President Diana White and Boardmembers Kory DeMun and April Nowak to work on policies and issues related to the district’s Highly Capable and Gifted programs.
Boardmembers expressed the desire to find ways to increase the participation of students who are under-represented in the programs. The Board and district staff agree that the district needs to look deeper into how it reaches students and families and to do things to reach under-represented populations.
-During the Celebration portion of the meeting, the Board recognized the work of the Mountlake Terrace PTSA and honored President Ellen Pritchett, Secretary Paxtyn Merten and Treasurer Sandy Merten. Among the activities the Mountlake Terrace PTSA sponsored was a Homecoming Girls Glamour Day for low income students. At the free event, students received a dress, hair styling, manicure and a meal.
“It was a fantastic event. We had so much fun,” Pritchett said.
Edmonds-Woodway teacher and IB coordinator David Quinn was honored for his work in organizing a social media campaign called High School Counselor Challenge. The campaign encourages colleges to pay the way for public high school counselors to attend the largest college admission conference of the year.
“These are among the hardest working people I’ve ever worked with, public high school counselors,” Quinn said.
– By David Pan