USD 410 board OKs sizeable computer purchase for schools

Surrounded by evidence of teachers teaching to the future, members of the Unified School District 410 Board of Education took another step to keep that initiative going by approving the purchase of 41 laptop and 25 desktop computers for next year during Monday night?s meeting in the Hillsboro High School Technology Center.

?Principals hear requests for more computers in every building,? Superintendent Gordon Mohn told the board. ?What has driven it is the Intel (Teach to the Future) training?(teachers are) really getting into that.?

The computers will be purchased from Gateway at a cost of $66,196, to be paid with funds set aside in the 2006-07 budget for just such a purchase.

The desktops will replace the 25 laptops in the Hillsboro Middle School computer lab, allowing the laptops currently in that lab to be available all day long for student use in the classrooms.

In addition to six more laptops for the new Teach to the Future teachers, student laptop availability with this purchase will be as follows: 35 laptops in the Hillsboro Elementary School Media Center, enough to serve at least two classrooms; and 75 laptops in the Wiebe Media Center, to be available for checkout by teachers in either the high school or middle school.

?I think we all feel comfortable with what we?ve done with technology, and we all feel the need to stay up to speed on that,? said Rod Koons, board president.

In other business, the board:

n granted the HHS Tech?nology Student Association permission to attend the National TSA Conference on June 24-28 in Nashville, Tenn., to cover the costs of two sponsors and to provide a district vehicle for this trip.

Students qualifying for the competition are Isaac Leihy, first-place dragster design; Lonnie Benda, third-place dragster design; Neal Kaiser, first-place flight endurance and first-place structural engineering; and Evan Just, first-place structural engineering and second-place flight endurance.

The decision followed a demonstration of all three competitions by the four students and advisers Creigh Bell and Mickey Harvey.

Board members got in on the action in the dragster demonstration: Dale Klassen raced Leihy?s dragster against Koons on Benda?s dragster down the CO2 raceway in the Technology Center.

Kaiser and Just showed those in attendance the bridges they have created for the structural-engineering competitions, then took them up to the gymnasium for a demonstration of the planes they have flown in the flight-endurance competitions.

The board also commended Bell for receiving the Kansas TSA Adviser of the Year Award.

?I?m amazed at some of things you?ve got these students doing around here,? Klassen said.

n advised HES principal Evan Yoder the revised 2007-08 handbook?s section ?Treats in the Classroom? only recommend, not require, that treats brought from home to help a child celebrate a special occasion be prepackaged.

?We want to make sure all food is safe for all kids,? Yoder told the board in his building report. ?We have a number of kids who have peanut allergies, so that?s become an issue.?

The board discussed requiring prepackaged treats so the district can avoid being liable in the case of a homemade treat triggering a child?s allergies, then finally decided to start only with a recommendation for the next school year.

The section will also include a list of ideas for inexpensive, healthy prepackaged snacks to send with a child, Yoder added.

?It goes along with our wellness initiative,? he said. ?I?d like to get the word out that that?s what we?d like to see.?

n heard from HMS principal Greg Brown that the middle-schoolers have expressed an interest in using site-council funds to help Greensburg residents in the aftermath of the recent tornado, rather than only for a fun day at Wild West World. The students will discuss with the site council how best to use the money with the time left in school.

?Our kids wanted to have that money to benefit the Greensburg folks somehow,? Brown said. ?It?s been very rewarding for me to watch the maturity of our middle-schoolers.?

n reviewed the 2007-08 HMS handbook revisions and class schedule. Brown noted the key changes: School will start five minutes earlier at 8:25 a.m., and each class period will be 49 minutes long to allow easier sharing of teachers between grade levels.

n reviewed with HHS principal Dale Honeck the proposed changes for the 2007-08 HHS student handbook.

Honeck said one key change is that computer laptops will be checked for damage when students return them to the library.

?We expect things to happen, but we would like the student to tell us when they bring it back,? Honeck said.

Honeck also discussed with the board the need for stricter wording in the policy on cell-phone use. The proposed policy for next year states that cell-phone use is prohibited during instructional time, regardless of the location, from the time the tardy bell sounds to the ringing of the dismissal bell.

?Our policy is liberal and it allows the student to be as communicative as they want to be,? Honeck said. ?I don?t think there?s anything wrong with letting kids use cell phones between classes. We?re trying to provide the kids with a mature way of handling things.?

Honeck said the policy may need to be tightened further if students can?t handle the current structure, and that a few students may end up ruining it for everyone else.

n heard a report from Charles Rempel, of Communi?ties in Schools, on the 2007 Kansas Kids Count Data for Marion County.

?Marion County has very low and decreasing tobacco use and binge drinking, so we can be very proud of that fact,? he said. ?We really do look good in what our kids are doing.?

n heard an update from Mohn on the June 5 bond election. Now in the final stages of raising public awareness of the election, Mohn said he will discuss the election in a presentation at noon May 23 at the Hills??boro Senior Center. He also plans to write a short note to parents about a week before the election, encouraging them to vote.

n reviewed the 2007-08 Master Contract agreed upon by the Interest-Based Bargaining Team. The agreement calls for a $1,000 increase in the base salary and an increase of $20 per month in the defined benefit for health insurance, which will result in an overall compensation increase of 3.88 percent for teachers.

The contract also added extra-duty pay at 4 percent each for a fall weight-room supervisor, chess club sponsor and H-Club sponsor.

n heard Mohn note a clarification he wished to verbally make regarding the school district?s plans for Memorial Field. He said the district did not want to move ahead with installation of an irrigation system in the outfield if it would keep the Marion County Fair?s carnival from being held there for one more year.

?We as a school don?t want to do anything to inhibit the fair from being on that field,? he said. ?We wouldn?t consider putting money toward irrigating the outfield until the fair issue has been decided.?

n accepted the resignation of Lesli Beery as half-time preschool instructor at Hillsboro Elementary, the resignation of Nathan Hiebert as assistant high-school boys? basketball coach and the resignation of Kory Unruh as the high-school boys? tennis coach.

n approved issuance of a supplemental contract to Danny Lundberg to serve as the K-5 physical education teacher at the elementary school, a supplemental contract to Nathan Hiebert to serve as the high-school girls? basketball coach, a supplemental contract to Kory Unruh to serve as the middle-school boys? basketball coach and an employment contract to Lori Soo Hoo to serve as the director of Marion County Parents as Teachers.

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