By Mike Scott
Sports-related items highlighted the Clark County R-1 School board’s January meeting agenda, but classroom technology needs dominated the discussion at their Monday, January 13.
The board met in the high school library so they could tour the activity field locker room/concession building, and discuss possibility of spending the remaining bond issue funds , approximately $30,000, on renovations. That tour never happened.
At the request of
board member Kevin Ross, a discussion on technology was added to the agenda.
At issue: Chromebooks.
“Grades seven and ten get new Chromebooks every year, and the old ones get passed down to the middle and elementary schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Ritchie Kracht. “We thought these Chromebooks would last, but they have a date after which Google will not allow us to manage them.”
Managing is the school or teacher’s ability to see what students are working on, monitor accounts, and add or remove program applications automatically. Program applications can still be added, but would need to be done manually, one-by-one. Some 675 devices are affected, with the first batch of Acer computers expiring in June, 2022.
“We probably don’t what to give fifth and sixth graders devices that cannot be managed,” Kracht said.
At Running Fox Elementary, every student has access to a computer. Running Fox principal Katrina Nixon noted that in her building, kindergarten students can log in and perform many computer tasks. When she has visited Black Hawk, she has worked with fourth graders who don’t have the same skills.
“Right now, I only have one-to-one in fourth and fifth grades,” said Black Hawk principal Betsy Parrish. One to one refers to every student having a computer. Other classrooms have to reserve computers, and bring them to the classroom.
Students at Running
Fox use computers about two hours per day. At Black Hawk, most students have access only one to two hours per week.
“Testing is going to be impacted,” said Parrish, “because
they (students) haven’t used computers before.” All state-required tests are taken on computers, and the students’ comfort with the technology and their ability to manipulate the computer affect their performance on test.
“Their comfort level matters on the tests,” confirmed High School principal Jason Harper.
Parrish was preparing to ask her PTO for $6000 to purchase an additional 40 computers.
“I’m wondering if we’d be better served if this money (from the bond issue) went to tech and playground equipment,” said board member Charlie West. “I hear it all the time that too much is spent on sports.”
“The willingness to use technology at Black Hawk has changed dramatically in the past couple years,” note Kracht.
“I’m telling you-the teachers are willing to use them,” replied Parrish.
The board agreed to get pricing on new Chromebooks, and will make a purchase decision at that time.
Athletic Director Jason Church explained to the board that Clarence Cannon Conference made changes two years ago, and now all teams have to schedule non-conference games during weeks one and two of the season. This causes difficulty in scheduling.
“Nobody is looking for a whipping or more than an hour on a bus,” said Church. “We offer both.”
Scheduling options include some metro St. Louis schools, but Church advised against them citing safety concerns. He reported that CCR-1 had been approached by a St. Louis Priory School, a private school, Catholic school from Creve Coure, and the district has scheduled games in 2020 and 2021. This fall, CCR-1 will travel to Creve Coure to play the Rebels, and in 2021, they will visit Kahoka. This year’s game will be played on Saturday, September 5, in the afternoon, because their field does not have lights.
Board President Brad Sprague reported that the City of Kahoka would like to replace the outfield fencing of the baseball field, and that they were asking the Kahoka Ball Association and the school district for assistance.
The city is willing to remove the current fencing, and is planning to install tiling to improve drainage at the field as their portion of the project.
“The fencing isn’t dangerous. It’s just not good,” said Church. “As a last piece of improvements there, it would be nice, but I can’t say it would be a good idea right now.”
Sprague noted the district’s tight budget this year, and Kracht commented on the uncertainty in funding from Jefferson City. In the end, the board agreed not to contribute to the project at this time.
In other business:
-Kracht reported hat attendance was very good at 94.51 percent, and that the average number of students in December was up 19 versus 2019.
-Kracht also reported that financial position of the district was very good, and that the district should receive a large portion to the tax revenue from Clark County in the coming days.