School hopes to equip 5-12 grade students with computer by 2015
A tech advisory group consisting of Fairfield school district employees is planning for technology integration in classrooms, reviewing tech needs and the direction the district wants to go with technology.
“Our broad priorities are addressing infrastructure and setting instructional priorities,” Superintendent Art Sathoff told the school board Monday.
The “tech cadre” wants to have a clear picture of what the district’s technology infrastructure needs are, Sathoff said.
The ideal would be for infrastructure and staff to be ready to implement a 1:1 initiative — a laptop computer or tablet for each student — with an appropriate device in grades 5-12 in the 2015-16 school year, Sathoff said.
“A lot needs to happen between now and then to set us up for success,” he said.
Professional development for teachers will need to include significant training on tech integration in the curriculum; funding needs to be available to purchase whichever device the district decides on; and all buildings’ infrastructure needs to be ready to work with more devices operating wirelessly.
The district will increase Internet bandwidth from 100 megabytes to 150 next year.
“Students and teachers do more live streaming of content and more interactive activities online,” said Sathoff. “The system can get bogged down. Additional bandwidth will help.
“As the high school project progresses, we want to ensure we renovate and build in a way that supports increased use of technology,” he said.
“The tech department has been addressing infrastructure through rewiring projects, but to plan for the future, we need a comprehensive analysis.
“The cadre has discussed speaking to other schools with successful 1:1 initiatives, working with Area Education Association tech director Sally Lingren to evaluate infrastructure needs and/or employing an outside consultant,” Sathoff said.
He stressed technological purchases and programs will be intentional so as to impact instruction positively.
“It’s not about the devices themselves,” Sathoff said. “We intend to integrate technology into the curriculum for helping teachers instruct and helping students learn.”
The tech cadre has discussed using Curriculum Loft, a cloud server supported by AEA. Potentially, Fairfield teachers could share activities, lessons and unit plans across AEA districts.
“We’ve discussed the importance of doing this one or two years in advance of any possible 1:1 initiative,” said Sathoff. “Our district survey data shows our teachers’ use of technology in instruction lags access and knowledge, so we want to provide opportunity to plan in advance of any rollout.
“We’re looking at 2014-15 for introducing the cloud with two days of teacher training early in the year,” Sathoff said.
He said teachers’ computers are aging but still functioning for the most part. Power cords will be replaced this year and the district will look to replace teacher laptop computers in 2014-15.
In action items Monday, the board accepted the resignation of district technology director Mark Cremer.
“Mr. Cremer worked very hard on behalf of the district the last two school years while budgets were tight and we were working to set a direction for the future,” said Sathoff. “His service is greatly appreciated.”
Board member Jeri Kunkle said she hopes Cremer knows how much he is appreciated.
“He found equipment for us from sources I didn’t know existed and he saved us a lot of money,” she said.
Sathoff said the district will advertise the technology director position with an application deadline of July 1.
“I’d like to conduct interviews July 8-10 and have a couple of board members assist with interviews,” he said. “I hope to get someone in place for the board to approve at the July 15 meeting.
“Cremer has offered to assist with the transition. We can hire him at per diem if needed after July 1.”
In other personnel news, the school board:
• Accepted the resignation of Michelle Wiegand, seventh grade Language Arts and reading teacher at Fairfield Middle School.
• Approved hiring Brittany Millikin as preschool instructor for the 2013-14 school year. Sathoff noted Millikin has one year of successful experience at Eddyville; has experience with Creative Curriculum and the online Gold Assessments. He recommended she be hired on step two with a bachelor’s degree at $35,222 annual salary.
• Approved hiring Erin Cracker for girls swim coach at $2,016.
• Approved the transfer of Katherine Al-Khanfar to full-time middle school Title teacher from shared Pence Elementary School and middle school Title teacher.
• Approved the transfer of Cole Boatright from fourth grade to third grade teacher at Pence Elementary School.
• Approved hiring four associates, Jack Finn and Katie Hutton, at FMS; and Heidi Lennox and Gina Edwards at Washington Elementary School.
• Approved the retirement of two cooks, Donna Bruner from Pence and Joyce Keller from Fairfield High School.