School board moves ahead with tech plan

The Webster City Community Schools will move ahead with a technology plan that would put individual mobile devices in the hands of staff and students in the coming year. Monday night The school board approved the plan which calls for purchasing 98 iPads for the staff and developing a plan to lease about 1,790 such devices for each student in the district pre-K through high school.

“I think we’re finally ready to take some action,” said Superintendent Mike Sherwood. The technologycommittee researched the costs and benefitst of both laptops and tablet devices. Sherwood provided the board with a cost analysis of purchasing laptops versus the tablets. He said the laptops could cost from $1,600 to $2,000 per device, where as the tablets would total just shy of $700 with cases and software.

Sherwood said the roll-out plan would initially provide training and orientation on the tablets and then a later roll-out would be held for students.

“We have a professional development day on Feb. 25 and we’re looking at having a tech fair,” he said. “We’ll have training and sessions, bringing in people to work with the staff. Then we’ll set up the support structure and training structure district wide.”

He said he expected that the roll-out of the student devices would in held in the next academic year, depending upon financing.

“I would hope we could look at a roll-out by mid-year,” he said.

The plan also calls for pre-k through first grade to receive mini iPads, with the full-size units going to grades 2 and above. Sherwood said MAP testing was not yet available for the iPad, but had heard the tests may be available for the tablets in the coming year.

Sherwood said the devices would also allow the district to download textbooks.

Technology Director Mark Murphy said the 32GB tablets should be sufficient to download the textbooks as well as complete tasks requested by the instructors.

With the approval for the initial 98 iPads, it was estimated that delivery of the units with cases and software would be in about two to three weeks.

Early retirements

Two longtime Webster City instructors submitted their intention to retire at the end of the current school year.

Julie Tharp, first grade teacher at Pleasant View, announced that she will retire after 27 years with the district. Middle school Associate Principal Duane Harding also submitted his retirement letter. Both also submitted their resignations, effective at the end of the current contract year.

A resignation was also accepted from Seth McGrane, who resigned his duties as head varsity baseball coach.

Kindergarten teacher Lisa Doering was granted a leave of absense for the remainder of the 2012-2013 academic year.

Board members Juli Jaycox and Beth Van Diest will represent the Webster City board in an informal joint meeting with Stratford and Northeast Hamilton board members. The meeting will be Wednesday.

Initial proposal

The Webster City Educational Services Association submitted its initial bargaining proposal for the 2013-2014 contract year. Association officials proposed a 9.45 percent salary increase, but said insurance costs were still unknown at this time.