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USD 431 considers major technology upgrade
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HOISINGTON — The USD 431 school board met this week and discussed purchasing an iPad for every student in the high school, including teachers.

Superintendent Bill Lowry said that it is a board goal to keep up with technology, but the district has not been able to do so because of statewide funding cuts to schools in the past few years.

The job market is changing rapidly. "We know a lot of jobs they’ll have don’t exist today," he said. "We have to ask what can we do to help students?"

Students have changed in the way they learn things, said the superintendent. "The classroom has to be more engaging and productive.

"Schools have not changed since the early 1900s," he said.

The proposal is for the purchase of 270 iPads which includes five apps. Apps is an abbreviation for application. An app is a piece of software that can run on the Internet, computer, phone or other electronic device.

The cost would be $140, 631. Each high school student would receive an iPad, which they would keep all of the way through high school. With the purchase of some training, three iPad carts of 24 for the lower grades and 25 Apple TVs, the total would be $191,142.14.

After graduation, students would have the option to buy their iPad. In addition, they would be allowed to keep any apps that they purchased.

All usage would be monitored. Any inappropriate usage or frequent breakage would result in consequences.

Lowry spoke of new, innovative ways to use technology. One example he gave is the use of the reverse classroom. The reverse classroom is where teachers’ record their lectures on the Internet, which would be homework to watch. Then, in the classroom, problems would be solved with teacher help, and class work completed.

In other business, Lowry gave an update on legislative issues. The latest Senate proposal would increase base state aid. He also said the state has asked for a waiver from No Child Left Behind.

The board listened to proposed changed to the handbook on the post season sports practice policy. The proposed language reads, "Athletic coaches can conduct a non-mandatory Sunday practice if approved by the athletic director or principal. If their team will compete on Monday in post season competition or Tuesday for football post season." Lowry asked that the board consider this change.

The board approved the use of a district bus by the St. John Catholic Church youth group for a trip to Denver, Colo. The group has been allowed to use it in the past.

In his report, Lowry said that the school, USD 428 and Barton Community College are considering purchasing and sharing a turf maintaining machine for the artificial turf. He also said the district is applying for a drug free grant for $125,000 over several years.