Technology is on the minds of the educators at East Grand School District. On Tuesday, Aug. 21, the school board discussed the possibility of adding a technology mill levy to November's ballot.
District IT Director Kery Harrelson gave a brief presentation about the improvements that have already been made to the schools' technology, and possible upgrades for the future.
Internet connections have improved speed, and the servers containing files are more secure than previously. Wireless upgrades, switching upgrades, and integration specialists are also current.
The district has 200 iPads currently in service, many of which are used by teachers. About 34 iPads are in use at the high school, which has higher speed access points than before.
Going over the costs and the technology-specific budget, Harrelson suggested a change from computer labs to individual student devices.
"We could go iPads for every student for about the same cost as ... as the cost is now to maintain the labs," he said. "The cost is the same. That's proof of where we're going anyway."
Discussion continued after Harrelson's presentation, focusing on plans for the levy and the best way to proceed.
"I think what we need is a long-term plan on what we want to do with technology funds, whether it's iPads, or whether it's maintaining the current labs, or maybe something completely different," said Chip Besse, school board treasurer.
Besse indicated that he and Superintendent Nancy Karas were in agreement that a committee should be formed in order to assess the school district's technology needs.
"We think that the best way forward would be to arrange for a committee of people in the community who have experience with technology and with technology providers and businesses and other areas that would go out and spend the next 9 months creating a plan to take to the community for a technology mill levy in 2013," Besse said.
Karas also discussed the necessity of implementation training to follow any technology upgrades.
"As far as taking it and making it an instructional tool, [we] just want to make sure students are reaching the standards," Karas said. "I think it's critical that we have that support. We have to know it's there for our staff and it has to be about the education as well. ... The needs are there, without a doubt, but then there's that next level of really taking it into the classroom."
It was agreed that pushing the levy in 2012 would be too hasty, and that a researched and well-prepared plan would best assess the technological needs and options of the students. The committee is to be formed in mid-September of this year.
"We need a full-scale plan," said Besse, "and it's going to take time to produce."