UPDATE: The town hall has been rescheduled to May 14th, 6:30 p.m. in the school library.
The Haines School District is holding a town hall meeting Wednesday to talk about a technology initiative. It’s called Engaging the Future, and a central goal is to expand school technology one-to-one. That means each student, K-12, would have access to their own iPad or laptop.
This started a few months ago when school staff and school board members met with an Apple representative to talk about education and technology.
“What we want to see is students that are well prepared for the world they are going to step into,” said Superintendent Ginger Jewell, who spoke on KHNS’s Talk Around Town.
The Engaging the Future group, which is composed of five teachers, two administrators, and one school board member, met several times to come up with a plan.
When they presented it to the school board, some board members were surprised. They balked at the idea of paying $120,000 for 10 iPads and 65 Macbooks and smartboards for all elementary classrooms. Right now, the Haines high school is one-to-one. That technology purchase would enable all grades to be one-to-one.
The board talked about it more at an April 14 workshop. There were a few major concerns. One: it’s a lot of money.
“To me, the numbers were staggering,” said board member Sara Chapell.
Concern number two: will young children be overexposed to technology?
“I don’t think you need to have Kindergartens with iPads,” said board member Lisa Schwartz. “I really don’t.”
Three: some parents are really opposed to increased tech.
“They are worried their kids are gonna walk in at 8 o’clock or whenever school starts, and they’re gonna have a computer in front of their face til 3 o’clock,” said board member Brian Clay.
Elementary teachers Sophia Armstrong and Patty Brown were at the workshop. They both said right now, it’s difficult to incorporate tech in their classrooms because they have to share iPads or laptops with other grades. The teachers said one-to-one would also help them individualize student learning.
Another goal of the Engaging the Future initiative is to hire a technology specialist who would work with teachers. The specialist would train teachers how to most effectively use the iPads and laptops in their classrooms. Superintendent Jewell says that job would be paid for by a professional development grant.
School staff who have spoken at meetings about Engaging the Future are all for it. But the school board is more hesitant:
“So I think if we implement this program, we better educate the public on what they’re getting, and how it’s gonna be used,” Clay said at the April workshop. “They don’t understand how it’s gonna be used. And I don’t either.”