Wednesday, May 13, 2015

School board members discuss digital future

J-E Editor
At Monday night’s Webster County School Board meeting, district officials introduced the first draft of a new Digital Learning Plan. That plan, if approved, will open a new doorway into digital learning in all of Webster County School by putting technology in the hands of students.

“We will not use technology in Webster County Schools just for the sake of it, but we will use technology in a way that will benefit today’s digital natives,” Superintendent Dr. Rachel Yarbrough told the board.

The plan includes a chronological list of steps that will prepare both students and teachers for a district-wide digital launch in the fall of 2016.

“Building capacity of teachers is the most important step,” said Rhonda Callaway, district Director of Secondary Instruction/DAC/CTE. “We already know which teachers are tech suave. We will meet with them in June about how to move forward with this program.”
In August, Laura Raganas, a Kentucky Department of Education Digital Program Consultant, will conduct an Instructional Assessment survey of the district, which will help administrators learn what technology is already in the hands of Webster County students.
Also in the fall semester the district plans to launch a pilot program in the middle school and elementary schools that will provide students with access to Chromebooks, Cloud-based handheld devices.

In the spring of 2016 the district will do a limited launch of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program that will allow students in select classes who already have handheld devices to bring them to class.

Along the way teachers will be trained on integrating digital technology in the classroom in a way that benefits students.

In other districts around the country this has included the use of digital textbooks, which are much cheaper and more up-to-date than the print versions, and integrating historical video and audio into social studies and history lessons.

The digital learning plan will also benefit the district and its students if the state approves them for alternative learning days, a plan that would allow schools to post digital lessons for students on snow days.

In other business, the board will soon be deciding what to do with the school board attorney position. The board’s current contract, which is with Frazer, Rogers and Peek for the services of Lawyer Roy Massey III, expires on June 30, 2015. The contract, which began on July 1, 2013 with Brandi Rogers acting as counsel, was a one year deal with the option of two renewals. This would be the final renewal before the district would have to re-interview for the position.

The board also heard an update on a Smoke Free Schools plan which they first discussed last summer. The plan is currently begin written, but is expected to be put to a vote on the next board meet, which will be on Tuesday, May 26.

The plan will ban the use of all tobacco, alternative nicotine products and vapor inhalers in all school owned vehicles and on all school owned property - this would include all campuses, the bus garage, all sports complexes and the board office grounds.

“I think, if we are going to be a school and stand up for the right things, we need to show it by doing this,” said board member Tim McCormick.

All other board members voiced their agreement with the plan.

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