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The Lake News Online
  • Despite low levy, Osage moving forward with technology upgrades

  • School of the Osage held tight on its tax levy for another year, maintaining its claim as having the lowest levy in the state.
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  • School of the Osage held tight on its tax levy for another year, maintaining its claim as having the lowest levy in the state.
    The board of education voted unanimously Monday night to set the district’s levy at $2.84 per $100 of assessed valuation. The levy hasn’t changed for several years.
    The board held a public hearing before the regular meeting, and there were no written or oral comments. Later in the regular meeting, the levy was approved.
    Superintendent Brent Depeé said while the levy has remained steady, he might recommend a slight increase in the operating portion of the levy in a year to cover increased operating expenses.
    “If we want to get more (technology) devices in the hands of kids, we may have to raise the operating levy next year,” Depeé said. “But we’ll leave it where it is for now.”
    Technology
    The board voted to expand the district’s technology program by approving Phase 1 of a long-range program to meet the needs of students as they prepare for the 21st century.
    Two years ago, Depeé noted, the district budgeted $300,000 for technology. That has doubled today, but board action lays the groundwork for expanding the program throughout the entire school district, he explained.
    The Technology Team, now part of the school district’s Five-Year Strategic Plan, proposed moving the district toward a 1:1 ratio technology solution. That means at some point in the near future each student would have access to some type of device. How each device is managed has yet to be determined.
    Phase 1 includes an Apple iPad device cart for each floor at the Heritage Building, which has the wireless infrastructure to support the devices. This will allow teachers to begin using devices in the classroom to their fullest potential, the Technology Team recommendation stated.
    In the Upper Elementary, the Tech Team recommended replacing the fifth grade laptops with iPads and keyboards. This allows 30 existing laptops to be moved to the high school where they are needed.
    Tech Tribes, comprised of students who will mentor students in technology, will receive sets of devices consisting of three types of devices. The Tech Tribes is a new concept to encourage students with technological aptitude to expand their knowledge while helping students and teachers in the classroom.
    The board shared its concern about moving cautiously so the district doesn’t suddenly find itself with an overabundance of devices that don’t fit the needs of the students.
    Eric Martin, one of the Tech Team members, assured board members that the team shared the same objectives.
    “The Tech Team is very aware of the potential pitfalls of introducing technology,” he said, “and we’re proceeding carefully.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Depeé reiterated the Tech Team’s concerns, saying that the school district has current technology needs that need to be addressed. He said the team and the district want to be “strategic” in their approach to implementing technology plans.
    “We won’t have a closet where the devices aren’t used,” he said. “We will find a use for them.”
    Estimated cost of Phase 1 is about $25,000.
    The technology expansion is starting at the Heritage Building which is now a wireless campus where computers and devices can be used freely around the building without any hard-wire connections. That infrastructure doesn’t exist at the other buildings.
    “The infrastructure at the other buildings isn’t adequate to support these types of devices,” Depeé explained.
    Board member Jay Edwards cautioned about developing a program that leaves gaps in the process.
    At the high school level, the library will be populated with 30 repurposed desktop devices, 30 laptops from the UE and 20 Apple Macbook Airs.

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