Tim Carroll ’13
After being deemed necessary by district administrators, new technology, such as iPads and laptops were purchased, upsetting staff, students and community members alike.
Seven iPads are being distributed, one to each building administrator and four are going to the Personnel Director, Technology Director, Special Education Director and Superintendent, respectively, all to be used for evaluations of teachers and walkthroughs. The twelfth iPad is set to be used as a “community tool” at the High School.
“Evaluating teaching skills through walkthroughs will indirectly benefit students, but technology that students can use will have a direct impact,” said Government teacher Beth Welles. “The bond money should be used for technology that directly impacts students.”
12 iPads and 20 new Netech Laptops were purchased for a total cost of $23,415. This money came from the approximately $6 million 2008 Bond Fund.
“The overall goals for the bond were not specific in 2008, we didn’t think we would be buying tablets with it, but we want to get technology into the classrooms,” said District Business Director Matthew Dishman. Dishman, along with Curriculum and Assessment Director John Thero, proposed the purchases to the School Board at the April meeting. Thero, who handled the planning and details, was in charge of the purchase.
“All the future software will be web oriented and accessible from anything that has access to the internet and the next wave of technology is the tablet technology,” said Thero. “Tablets are the future, there will be no computer labs, only mobile technology for students.” Thero also said that the tablet technology is better for elementary students as opposed to desktop computers.
This new technology is going to be used primarily for observations and data collection. “Currently, the data that is collected in walkthroughs is not collected and processed…prior to next year South Lake has had no system for processing and analyzing data from walkthroughs. This will be the first,” said Thero.
Thero also said that these new tools will be incredibly beneficial to the district. “Instruction will have a higher impact on students than anything else,” Thero added. “When technology supplies like elmos and projectors only affect 30 students at a time, these evaluations with the new tablet technology will affect a much greater number of students.” Thero also said he has recently ordered new Elmos and projectors for classrooms.
Parents of students and community members in the district still remain uncertain.
“I won’t vote for anymore bonds if this is what they’re going to be buying,” said a mother who requested to stay anonymous. “It doesn’t seem like it was well thought out.” She added that she felt the district acted irresponsibly.
“Evaluations are really the only way to directly impact students,” said Superintendent Pam Balint. “Every purchase we make is a step towards the big picture, which is technology in classrooms.”
While teachers, parents and administrators argue over the purchase, students feel that their opinions have been unheard.
“I think a computer lab would help me a lot more than some principals with a tablet,” said Junior Matt Forsgren. “How is this even going to affect me? I don’t see why anyone thought this was a good idea.” Forsgren, an all A student and self-proclaimed “overachiever” is upset. “I’m graduating next year and I won’t see any of the improvement everyone is talking about, this isn’t going to help me.”