‘Richer experience’ for Orland SD 135 students
By Mike Nolan email@example.com March 13, 2014 8:24PM
Students at Centennial Junior High work on Apple laptop computers. While computers are now shared among junior high classes in District 135, the district plans to supply all sixth- , seventh- and eighth-grade students with their own computers this coming school year. | Supplied photo
Updated: April 15, 2014 6:05AM
Orland School District 135 is embarking on a multimillion-dollar technology initiative that will, put computers in the hands of all its students in a few years.
And district officials vow that, despite the price tag, they won’t be turning to taxpayers for more money to pay for it.
Initially, District 135 is spending $2.8 million for the program for next school year plus another $1.4 million over two years starting with the 2015-16 school year.
Starting next school year, the district will provide MacBook Air laptops for all sixth, seventh and eighth graders, while third graders will receive iPad Air tablets. The hope is that within three years all district students will have their assigned laptop or tablet.
Students in various grades share available computers, and the initial purchase will free up more of those for students who aren’t getting their own.
District 135 has invested in the infrastructure to make it all work, such as installing wireless access points in classrooms to support multiple computers.
Initially, the computers assigned to specific students will stay at school, but the district expects that at some point during the coming school year students will be able to take them home each day.
More widespread access to the computers will create a “richer experience for our students next year” and prepare them for a “world that is ever-changing,” said Lynn Zeder, the district’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessment.
Getting a computer for each student will make it easier for them to collaborate on projects and enable teachers to post information such as homework assignments, while parents can keep track of their child’s upcoming assignments online as well, according to District 135 administrators.
Supt. Janet Stutz said a computer for every student changes the traditional roles of teacher and student — a “shift from the teacher being all-knowing” to where “the teacher becomes the facilitator of the context of what happens in the classroom.”
The district plans to get the computers to teachers by this summer and will deploy “instructional technology coaches” — teachers at the schools who will help familiarize other faculty members with the devices and applications. Apple, as part of the district’s computer deal, will also have staff involved in the training.
School board president Joe La Margo insisted that the district won’t raise its property tax levy to pay for the technology initiative, and Stutz said district officials will “do everything we can to live within our means” to finance it.