Bonner Springs High students to receive Chromebooks next year
Every Bonner Springs High School student will receive a Chromebook laptop next year, and school staff will receive them next semester.
Based on the recommendation of the district's Technology Committee, the USD 204 Board of Education Monday approved the purchase of Chromebooks, laptops that use Google's Chrome OS operating system, in the 2015-16 budget year for BSHS students use in the 2016-17 school year. In January, Chromebooks will be purchased for each BSHS instructor.
Additionally, the district will hire a technology integration specialist for a term of two to three years to provide support for teachers and students as the laptops are introduced.
Dan Brungardt, superintendent, explained that the Technology Committee recommended Chromebooks after visiting several districts that already had provided students with laptops, including Ottawa, Gardner and Spring Hill.
"Some had MacBooks and switched to Chrome because of affordability," he said.
Basehor-Linwood USD 458 launched a 1:1 laptop initiative at Basehor-Linwood High School this year, providing each student with a MacBook Air.
Brungardt said the Chromebook laptops would be about $240 each.
"Part of the issue is, if you're versed in Google, the complete package is there without any additional expense. With the Chrome books, you have the Google Word program, the Google Powerpoint program, the Google Excel program."
The district has set aside a portion of its budget annually for new technology. Ken Clark, technology director, said the district could cover the entire cost of implementation within those technology funds.
The teachers would receive laptops seven months in advance to allow them enough time to become familiar with the technology in order to use it effectively in the classroom in August.
Brungardt said the new technology employee would be a short-term position when the program became self-sustaining. Board member Tim McGinnis, who teaches in the Olathe school district, voiced his support for adding the position.
"Having an IT guy full-time in that building will be awesome, not only for teachers but for students," he said. "It's worth its weight in gold."
Brungardt presented the proposal as an informational item and was going to seek final approval at next month's board meeting, but board members decided there was no reason to wait.
Brungardt said by implementing the laptops in high school this year, he believed that next year the district could come to the board to expand it to eighth grade, then seventh and sixth grade.
He said the district already had a plan to increase WiFi equipment at high school, so district officials think they should be able to handle the load.
In other business, the board reviewed the overall results for the district from last year's new State Assessments.
Leticia Porter, director of elementary instruction, said the district lagged just behind the state median scores in both reading and math at every grade level. One of the largest discrepancies was in Grade 10 math scores, where 46 percent of students scored below grade level, compared to 37 percent for the state.
Porter said they determined that was because the test included a large amount of geometry questions. The district's sequence of math classes is Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and then Geometry, so many students taking the test had yet to take geometry.
Porter said adjusting the sequence so that students take Algebra 1, Geometry and then Algebra 2 is one of many adjustments the district will make so that curriculum aligns with the tests.
Porter said building principals will now analyze the data for individual students who performed below grade level or just at grade level.
Individual scores will be available to parents in mid-December, she said, but the district has decided to give it to parents at the February parent-teacher conferences so the parents can get a better understanding of the scores. Parents will be able to request their students' scores when they are released.