Since 2017, the Whitley County Board of Education has provided Chromebooks for every student in grades seven through 12.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, middle and high school students took home their Chromebooks so they could do non-traditional instruction assignments at home.
During the next school year, the district’s one-on-one Chromebook initiative is being extended down all the way to the fourth grade level with the purchase of 2,400 new Chromebooks at a price tag of $530,900 including the extended warranty.
“We have seen the success that the high school and middle school teachers have had with these devises. We have a vision to push these down even lower,” Superintendent John Siler told the Whitley County Board of Education Thursday.
“That is a huge commitment by our district, but we believe in this. Again, the teachers in grades seven through 12 have had these in place for three years…We have some of the best teachers in the state. They are creative and they are not scared to push the limits of technology. I think when we put these Chromebooks in our district all the way down to fourth grade, I think our kids are going to benefit so much from this.”
Siler noted that this measure will actually extend the use of Chromebooks down to even younger students because several elementary schools in the district had already used Go Fund Me and other discretionary funding means to purchase Chromebooks for their students. Those older Chromebooks will now likely be passed down to students in lower grades.
During Thursday’s meeting, the board also discussed how the new Infinite Campus’s Campus Learning software will mirror the expanded Chromebook initiative providing data and feedback not only for teachers, but also for students and parents.
Director of Pupil Personnel Patrick Bowlin said that this will allow teachers to make assignments, such as quizzes, and instantly get feedback so they can see if students are grasping concepts, or if some students need additional instruction.
The grades from those assignments are also instantly uploaded to the gradebook, and parents can use Infinite Campus to checks their child’s academic progress.
Bowling added this also enables teachers to offer specialized instruction.
“All of our teachers have excellent tool belts. We are putting a lot more tools in their toolbelts,” he said.
In addition, the board has approved submittal of an application to do non-traditional instruction during the 2020-2021 school year.
While all schools throughout Kentucky have been doing non-traditional instruction during the COVID-19 outbreak, many other districts have also been doing non-traditional instruction during inclement weather for the last few years.
Siler noted that he has not been a big fan of non-traditional instruction in the past for inclement weather days, but the job that Whitley County teachers have done during the pandemic has changed his mind about this type of learning.
Siler added Thursday that about 90 percent of those Chromebooks, which had been sent home with students for non-traditional instruction, had already been turned back into the district, and there were still a few days left to get them turned back in on time.
“Our kids have shown a lot of Colonel Pride,” he said.
In other business, the board:
- Approved a $466,437 bid for fleet, property and liability insurance for the 2020-2021 school year. Siler noted that Chief Finance Officer Alicia Logan was able to work out a deal to drop collision insurance on many school district buses for May, June and July since many aren’t going to be on the road then, which has saved some money.
- Approved various bids for the 2020-2021 school year, such as a $128,396.76 bid for workers compensation insurance. Siler noted that Waste Connections has been servicing the school districts dumpsters for several years, but the Whitley County Fiscal Court made a successful bid to service some of those dumpsters this upcoming fiscal year, which is expected to save the district quite a bit money. “We appreciate them taking it on for us,” Siler added.