Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

January 28, 2014

Tech devices coming for K-5 students

Debbie Blank The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — When the school year begins in August, each Batesville Community School Corp. student in grades K-12 will have some sort of tech device after trustees voted Jan. 20 to continue the 1:1 (one computer for each student) initiative.

BCSC leaders will complete the last round of Apple leases for 7-inch iPad Minis for Batesville Primary School kindergartners through second-graders and 9-inch iPad 2s for Batesville Intermediate School students in grades 3-5.

Superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts said he wants students to become so familiar with the technology that they will be able to use the devices to take ISTEP tests.

He thanked the leaders who have worked hard on this project: George Junker, CREATE (Committee to Review, Evaluate and Aid Technology in Education) Foundation chairperson; instructional technology curriculum director Jackie Huber; information technology support director Mike Weiler; BIS principal Dr. Jere Schoettmer; and BPS principal Heather Haunert.

The 1:1 effort began when Batesville High School teens received 11-inch MacBook Air laptops in August 2012 and Batesville Middle School students started using them in August 2013.

Despite this upcoming investment, “we’ve been able to keep book bills very reasonable,” Roberts assured.

Before the vote, trustee Wanita Linkel asked if the server is powerful enough to handle all devices. Yes was the short answer. The superintendent said technology has been or is being upgraded. For instance, bandwidth capacity has been doubled.

Three recent grants totalling $18,750 will supplement BCSC learning efforts. A $10,000 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Education Program Grant from Bemis Co., Neenah, Wis., a global plastic products manufacturer, will be used for the purchase of tools, materials and equipment for Project Lead the Way at BHS. Principal Andy Allen said the dollars will be used to help sustain the program, which continues to grow. “It’s our most popular elective for kids.”

The BCSC IT Department received a $5,000 Lightspeed Systems Foundation Grant for teachers’ stipends to work on developing the 1:1 initiative during the summer.

A grant application written by BIS third-grade teacher Cindy Weisenbach resulted in $3,750 from EcO15 (Economic Opportunities Through Education 2015), which will be used for the Flower Power Project. Students will design, create and manage a flower garden at St. Andrews Health Campus. “Our research shows that will be a very good thing” for residents there, the superintendent observed.

Of gaining these and other grants, BCSC President Chris Lowery noted, “Hopefully taxpayers appreciate how we try to stretch the dollars.”

One more money source will elevate students’ safety. A $39,421 grant from the Indiana Secured School Fund will provide digital radio equipment for buildings and school buses.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.

More topics • Consultant Dr. Steve Benjamin, Bloomington, will conduct a continuous improvement audit with educators at each building Feb. 17-20. • 2013 ended with $1.17 million in the BCSC General Fund, an 8.7 percent balance, which was above the 8 percent goal. Lowery complimented Roberts "on a great job of how we spend our money … This is the first year we've achieved that goal." Roberts said this kind of financial preparation will help manage through future recessions. • The General Fund expenditures report from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, totals $12.2 million or $5,909 per student. "That rank put us 272nd out of 356 (Indiana) public school corporations" in spending, said Roberts, with the range going from $3,884 to $9,960 per student. Of 10 area school districts, BCSC was third from the bottom. The lowest was Franklin County at $5,869 and the highest was South Ripley at $7,752. • While several years ago, "it was quite the debate" to allow Slam Dunk Sports Marketing, Middletown, Ohio, to help local businesses advertise on school grounds, the net revenue for the school district since inception of advertising in 2007 was $32,491, the superintendent said. BCSC also has gotten equipment out of the deal: two scrolling message cabinets, two LCD video boards, a Batesville Middle School LED message center, football scoreboard with wireless control, goal post pads plus automated external defibrillators at schools and in vehicles traveling to away athletic events. • BCSC educators may opt to teach in China this summer at a $1,000 cost. They would work June 28-July 18 with other English-speaking teachers to prepare high school graduates to attend Beijing University, an engineering school. • Trustees voted to sign a letter of intent with EMCOR Construction Services, Fort Wayne, to proceed with the development and engineering for energy savings at Batesville Primary School at costs of up to $75,000 in preparation for a potential summer project. The firm's services provide a turnkey operation with EMCOR workers installing and maintaining equipment. "It cuts out layers of markups," according to Pitts. • The board OK'd personnel recommendations: Certified - medical leave: Kathy Wagner, BMS reading and language arts teacher; new: Angela Smith, BHS Spanish teacher; Classified - medical leave: Donna Doll, BPS cafeteria worker; medical leave extension: Barb Maple, BMS instructional aide; resignation: Leslee Jones, BMS instructional aide; medical leave replacements: Alex Evans, BPS Title I paraprofessional; Amy Shaw, BMS ROD special education paraprofessional; new: Kathy Hays and Pam Stein, BHS part-time cafeteria workers; Extracurricular - Eric Stauffer, BHS Jazz Band director; Transportation - resignation: Diana Baum, bus aide.