By CRISTINA JANNEY
The Hays USD 489 school board discussed the replacement program for the district’s tablets.
The districts several years ago went to a one-to-one program for all students and staff. Every student has access to a computer.
Technology Director Scott Summers brought a replacement plan to the board at its meeting Monday night.
This shows the high school computers being replaced after four years and then the middle school, then elementary school replacement being split into two years with fifth through third grade being replaced in one year and the Kindergarten through second grade being replaced the next year. Replacement of staff computers would also be staggered.
The computer replacement plan would cost an estimated $310,800 in 2018-19, which would include the sale of old computers. The program would cost $206,000 in 2019-20, $203,320 in 2020-21 and $227,430 in 2021-2022.
Board member Greg Schwartz asked why the high school computers were being replaced before the projected six-year lifespan that was suggested when the computers were purchased.
Superintendent John Thissen said creating the replacement plan would allow the district to budget for the replacement instead of being hit with a large expense all at once. Further it would avoid the chaos of introducing so many new pieces of technology at once.
Summers said the district only receives a discount on packs of 10 computers, so buying all the computers for the district at one time would not reap a significant savings.
Board member Josh Waddell said he would like to see better measures of how the technology is improving the education experience for students. He questioned the expense of the one-to-one technology policy, especially in light of the district’s recent $78.5 million bond issue failure. He said funds may need to be diverted to other capital needs.
Schwartz also said he thought the district needed to equate the increase in technology with some type of objective measure such as test scores.
“Is it a toy or a tool?” Schwartz said.
Waddell also said he would like the district to look at a bring-your-own-device policy for staff.
Board member Paul Adams brought up a study that indicated the use of technology in the classroom did increase student performance on his computer during the discussion and forwarded to all the board members and asked them to at some point look at it.
He added that the district needs to look at the use and access to technology and consider how it will be used to reach the new district accreditation standards.
Thissen said the replacement policy has not been finalized and can still be revised by the district’s Technology Committee.
Summers also discussed a proposal to contract for a new website. The estimated prorated cost for the site would be $7,600 for a site going live in February. Ongoing maintenance of the site would cost $11,000 annually. The company would create an updated design, help create consistency within the district’s webpages and help teachers and staff manage content on the site.
The plan also includes a notification system, which would save the district $5,600 annually through elimination of its current notification system. The contract would also give the district the option of a branded App.
The district’s site is not ADA compliant. It should create text when a cursor hovers over pictures. The district could be forced to update the site if someone makes an ADA complaint.
Board member Lance Bickle said WordPress, which the district currently uses, can be used to make the site ADA complaint.
Board members questioned the cost and a move away from WordPress and into a proprietary software system.
Summers said the district would encumber no cost until the website would go live. He said he would bring back some designs at a later board meeting.