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Park Rapids schools begin iPad initiative


Plans continue to move forward for the deployment of iPads for Park Rapids Area High School students this fall.

High school principal Jeff Johnson reported that he and tech committee members are developing an “acceptable use agreement” to define the parameters of the computers’ uses.

“We are looking at steps for success of their implementation,” he said of the administrative, instructional and technological aspects.

And to that end, plans call for bringing in 15 to 20 student “computer gurus” at the end of July who will be trained to become “experts in their class.”

Disbursement of the tablet computers will likely take place prior to school starting.

Students will be responsible for their iPads; deposits may be required to fund insurance with waivers for students unable to afford the cost.

“Part of the expectation is they come to school charged,” Johnson said, in response to a question posed.

“Students will be responsible,” he said, noting apps can track the location of a lost computer.

In mid-August, staff training will be underway. Teachers will determine how the technological tools will be used in their classrooms, Johnson said of research, projects, notes, “handing in assignments” and other possibilities.

“I want teachers to actively use them twice a week, and more by the end of the year,” he said. Training will be conducted. “We will evaluate as we go and review after the first trimester as to how we can make it better.”

Teachers will be encouraged to create their own curriculum on the iPads. Traditional textbooks will be used as a resource.

Johnson cited several apps that may be employed, including one to manage daily assignments. The committee, he said, has conducted research into how other districts are using them.

“It’s a work in progress,” he said of the implementation process.

Questions being addressed include what to do when a student’s computer is inoperable, sending out the various applications to each computer and communication with parents.

“The management piece will be controlled by the school,” he said.

He noted just a single iPad was damaged this past year.

Century School principal Joleen DeLaHunt said additional iPads and Chromebooks will be introduced at the elementary and middle school levels, “but we are not ready for one-on-one yet.”

In other action, the board:

n Approved a negotiated contract with teachers calling for a 1 percent increase in salary for 2013-14 and a .5 percent increase in 2014-15.

n Approved increases in school breakfast and lunch prices for the coming year.

Breakfast will be costing a nickel more; lunch costs will increase by a dime.

Cost for breakfast for grades K-4 will be $1.30, grades 5-12 will be $1.55 and adults $2.10.

Lunch will cost $2.05 for grades K-4, $2.15 for grades 5-8, $2.35 for grades 9-12 and $3.40 for adults.

Food service director Tom Marcussen said a new set of menus for lunch will be introduced, “based on what kids like and is reimbursable.”

A new breakfast menu, developed with the aid of a dietitian via a grant, will also tempt taste buds.

Under the new guidelines, the menus look at calories and nutrition.

Lunch will have less sodium and fats and sweets have disappeared from the breakfast menu.

Plans call for a salad bar again this year.

By 2014-15, the ala carte menus will be strongly based on calories, he said.

“Overall, the new menus have been positive,” Marcussen said.

n Approved the sale of the student-built house to the single bidder, a local resident, at $51,000 plus sales tax.

Johnson said this covers the cost of materials. Hopes are to keep the house on the premises until school begins and students in the industrial education class can see the “finished product.”

n Approved Julie Cook as sixth grade teacher and granted tenure to Kim Lempola.

n Learned the school has received a grant of $52,000 for a home-school interventionist.

n Approved the Mahube food program contract renewal, with no change in price.

n Approved the four school handbooks for 2013-14, with minor revisions.

n Approved a “government lease resolution” for three new buses, the old buses to go on public auction.

n Reported the fall allocation of funds by the Park Rapids Education and Activities Foundation is $22,811.

The foundation distributed $56,675 this past school year.