Students to get laptopsEnglish classrooms at Jamestown High School will be getting a technology facelift after the Jamestown Public School Board agreed to match a grant and then some at Monday’s meeting.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
English classrooms at Jamestown High School will be getting a technology facelift after the Jamestown Public School Board agreed to match a grant and then some at Monday’s meeting.
The high school English department and Rae Ann Vandrovec, technology curriculum staff development coordinator, wrote the grant but were not awarded as much as they hoped.
“The good news is we got the grant, so we’re very excited about that,” said Shelly Moltzen, English department chair. “The bad news is that the people who awarded the grant gave us $60,000 so we’re $10,000 short, $20,000 if you look at the matching funds.”
The Classroom Transformation Grant from the North Dakota Educational Technology Council was a $70,000 matching grant that the board previously agreed to match. But because only $60,000 was awarded Vandrovec and Moltzen asked the board to contribute an additional $15,000 for a total of $75,000.
The grant will provide all English students at the high school with a laptop they can use every day. Lesson plans will also be altered to include the new technology.
“If we can keep kids engaged, that I think is well worth $5,000,” Moltzen said.
Vandrovec said she will survey the students before they use the computers and after they’ve worked with them, as well as track their academic results to see if technology makes an impact on how students learn.
“We hope this grant will prove that technology inclusions will make a difference in kids’ learning,” she said.
The motion passed 8-1 with board member Roy Musland casting the lone opposing vote. Musland did not say why he voted no.
“When you mention that four of your teachers are here from your department and you collaborate on so many things, that is Jamestown — and the people that benefit are our students,” said Diane Hansen, board member.
Other members also expressed satisfaction with the effort in securing the grant.
“This is exactly what this board needs to approve, is stuff for the education of our kids,” said School Board member Gail Martin.
Washington Elementary also received a $5,000 Teachers and Technology Grant.
In other business, Nick Hardy, school resource officer, reported that incident numbers are on pace to match last year. From the start of the school year until Jan. 10 there were 29 incidents.
Hardy said more incidents have been happening outside of school and the problem is taken care of before it gets to the building.
“I think it helps a lot having that trust with the students, and I think I have more (trust) than last year because I’m having more come in,” he said referring to students reporting problems to him.
Hardy did, however, mention that methamphetamine has returned to Jamestown and that synthetic marijuana use is up.
“Our task force is on it, they’re on it as much as they can,” Hardy said of local law enforcement.
He said there is little drug activity in the schools, but he has planned an event to inspect cars in the parking lot. He wouldn’t go into any more detail.
“Locker searches are tough, they don’t keep it in their lockers anymore,” he said. “We figured out another way to do it that’s going to catch them not in their locker.”
The School Board also approved a list of early retirement applications.
Kim Carlson, Dianne Conlon, Sandra Dale, Jan Johnson and Anthony Olsen all applied and will split the $190,000 that is negotiated for this school year. That amounts to about 77.5 percent of what their full payment would be.
“From this point on it is with regret that we see these people leaving because they’re all excellent people,” Superintendent Bob Toso said.
Jamestown Middle School Principal Joe Hegland also requested early retirement.
Hegland is the last administrator on staff to have early retirement in his contract and he turned down a raise to keep it in his contract.
The board unanimously approved to pay Hegland the same percentage that the teachers would be receiving.
Board President Greg Allen thanked Hegland for his 33 years of service to the district.
The board also unanimously approved a request from the Strategic Action Planning Team to focus its efforts just to athletics, ruling out arts programs.
SPAT is working on a plan to implement changes proposed in a 101-page report from Athletic and Co-Curricular Activities Committee to improve Jamestown programs.
“Our recommendation is for now we limit the scope of the strategic planning team to athletics only,” said Terry Anderson, SPAT representative. “That will make it more efficient.”
Also in athletics, Musland requested an update on the status of the search for a new football coach.
“We’re just holding right now to see if we’re going to get some more teacher openings,” Toso said.
At the end of the meeting the board entered executive session for discussion of possible litigation of a former employee with the district’s attorney.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org