New London Schools discuss 1:1 expansion to elementary
BY BRYCE KELLY
Mt. Pleasant News
NEW LONDON —Is a K through 12th-grade 1:1 laptop initiative still on the horizon for the New London Community School District? According to school board members, as long as it’s done for the betterment of student education, the possibility is certainly on the table.
Among the myriad of topics discussed on Wednesday evening during the New London School Board regular meeting was the expansion of the school’s current 1:1 program to include the lower elementary classrooms. The question posed to the school board by superintendent Chad Wahls was whether or not the board felt comfortable with looking at moving the 1:1 forward to the entire elementary school. After reading reports from New London Elementary classrooms that are currently doing test pilots of the 1:1, the board said it was something they, at this point, felt would be a positive step forward for the district.
The pilot program is currently being used to test the use of Chromebook laptops in the eighth-grade, fifth-grade and first-grade classrooms.
“The information I have received from our teachers is that they like the Chromebooks, but understand that our goal is not to replace paper and pencil learning, but to enhance it,” said Wahls, adding teachers have been very patient in the learning curve that has gone into these pilot programs. “We are also getting the impression that the teachers like the Chromebooks they are using.”
Board member Jesse Howard said hearing that teachers were looking forward to a full 1:1 implementation was a good sign that the program was working. However, he did express both his concerns and what he said were also concerns from some in the community that teachers should not take the approach of spending too much of the school day on the computers.
“As a parent of a young child, and the impressions that I have gotten from other parents as well, my hope is that we don’t create classrooms of young kids just glued to a screen all day. I don’t think we need computers to teach our kids everything,” Howard said, adding he was also pleased to hear that the Chromebooks being used were appreciated by the elementary.
New London elementary principal Todd Palmatier agreed with Howard, saying he has also heard some concerns from parents on this particular aspect of a 1:1 expansion to the elementary.
“In the elementary, I want everyone to understand that we aren’t going to a paperless classroom with a 1:1 program. A 1:1 program at the elementary has always been a tool for us. That’s the way we have looked at it,” he said. “We are a 1:1 school because we feel it can expand learning for our kids, not replace paper and pencil learning. It’s an enhancement of that.”
Despite the fact that nothing was voted on in terms of whether or not to purchase additional devices to expand the 1:1 during Wednesday’s meeting, Wahls said the board’s discussion certainly helped the district in moving closer to such a decision at a future board meeting.
Moving on to other topics, the board also received a construction update from Wahls. Currently, the district is doing work to update the elementary school roof, as well as updating the waste service/water and drainage in both the locker rooms and high school concession stands. The district is also in the process of constructing a new track and field.
According to Wahls, while winter weather doesn’t allow for a large amount of construction, especially outdoors, the contractors have worked all three projects and no major issues have occurred thus far. He also assured the board that he will keep them abreast of any progress or major roadblocks as the projects move forward.
In regard to personnel matters, the board approved several appointments including Greg Lerdal, as high school boys’ and girls’ golf coach; Duane Blint, as assistant high school softball coach; Brad Helmerson, as head high school baseball coach; Brian Swafford, as assistant high school baseball coach; Aaron Brown, as middle school baseball coach; and Joe Garvey, as volunteer wrestling coach.
The board also approved the resignations of Brad Helmerson, head high school football coach; and Barbara Meyer, middle school girls’ basketball coach.
In other news, the board:
• Approved the 2017-2018 curriculum handbook, with only a few minor changes from last year’s handbook
• Approved the 2017-2018 registration fees
The board will meet again on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, at 7 p.m., at the New London North Campus Board Room.