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Schools commit to laptops

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The schools are talking tech this year, with a recently established goal to purchase laptop computers to replace the district’s desktop computers, some of which are 10 to 13 years old. At the Yellow Springs school board meeting on Thursday, March 8, district Superintendent Mario Basora presented the replacement schedule as a recommendation of the technology strategy team, a group of administrators, teachers and students working to implement the technology goals of the district’s Class of 2020 Strategic Plan completed last fall.

The new commitment to utilizing mobile electronic devices to enhance learning in the district is part of the overall goal of the 2020 plan to facilitate collaborative, project-based education. The district typically spends $25,000 each year at each of the two buildings, Mills Lawn and McKinney/Yellow Springs High School on technology needs, which will now be used to purchase laptops on a five-year cycle, Basora said. Though the details of how the computers will be distributed among classrooms and shared between students have not yet been established, the goal is to allow students and teachers access to digital tools in their classrooms or out in the field, instead of being confined to a computer “lab.”

Basora emphasized that the school sees computers as not an end but rather a means to an end.

“Technology is a tool, not a replacement for [teaching and learning],” he said during the board meeting.

The district has also convened meetings with five other Class of 2020 strategic teams within the past two months. Each team consists of administrators, teachers and some students and community members, who have volunteered to work together to create specific strategies to implement the goals of the district’s 10-year strategic plan. About 36 percent of the district’s teaching staff participated in the team discussions, all of which will be synthesized into a Class of 2020 strategies presentation to school board this spring.

In other school board business:

• The board agreed to hold a committee of the whole meeting on Thursday, March 22, to discuss the details of the upcoming school tax levy. The discussion will focus on what kind of levy and what rate to ask voters for this November.

The board also approved current levy amounts and rates for the 2012 fiscal year, including an 8.3-mill emergency levy generating $1.06 million for the district, a 2.35-mill bond retirement levy bringing in $281,000, a 1.2-mill permanent improvement levy for $120,000, and for the general fund, 4.3 mills of inside (or mandated) millage for $520,000 and 47.5 mills of outside (voted) millage for $1.846 million.

• The board approved a leave of absence for family reasons for fourth grade teacher Jennifer Scavone from Aug. 20, 2012 to Jan. 3, 2013. The approval includes a contract negotiated with Yellow Springs Education Association, the teacher’s union.

• The board approved Jeffrey Jones as a substitute custodian, to be paid at a rate of $10 per hour. The board also approved contracts for James DeLong as softball coach with a stipend of $1,888, Donna Silvert as tennis coach with a stipend of $1,573, and nonremunerated volunteer tennis coach Nick Rittenhouse and softball coaches Shannon DeLong, Kristen Kenney, Timothy Howard and Rick Davis.

• The board gave initial approval for the Class of 2014 to begin fundraising for a senior trip to Puerto Rico in that year.

• Mills Lawn fourth, fifth and sixth grade choir students gave a short performance of African-American folk songs and readings from the emancipation era, which music teacher Joe Frannye Reichert offers as a voluntary enrichment program.

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