Wednesday, January 18, 2012
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Textbooks out, notebooks in for LCHS pilot program

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[January 18, 2012]  The Spanish and French classes at Lincoln Community High School will begin to study in March with computer-generated material replacing traditional textbooks, in a pilot program coordinated by the school board's technology committee. Reatha Owen, committee chairwoman, has updated the board at monthly meetings as plans have unfolded. She presented final details at the school board meeting Tuesday night.

Sixty-five Dell notebooks and two storage carts are being ordered for use by juniors and seniors in the Spanish and French classes. The notebooks will come with appropriate software. The cost of each unit is $279, with Windows SP Professional installed. The total price tag for 65 notebooks and two storage carts will be $20,446.91, to be covered with grant funds. The computers will be used for the pilot program that will begin in March and run through the end of this school year. Regular use will be implemented for the 2012-2013 school year.

In previous board meetings Mrs. Owen has encouraged spending more on technology, specifically the implementation of computer textbooks to allow students to stay in touch with the most up-to-date information and material. 

According to Owen, the technology committee requested a volunteer from the teaching staff to trade textbooks for computers for the pilot program. Foreign language instructor Kathy Stoyak suggested that the junior and senior year students be allowed to test the program and offer input.

"Textbooks on computers are cheaper," Owen told the LCHS school board. "It will eliminate paper publications that are outdated in a few years. When material needs to be replaced, the programs are a few dollars. It will be a much more affordable system than buying all new textbooks."

Superintendent Robert Bagby asked the board to consider dropping the district's association with Salt Creek Academy. There is a $3,000 annual fee that allows LCHS to send students to SCA. The facility accepts students with disciplinary issues. In addition to the flat fee, every district must pay tuition for its students enrolled at SCA. A truancy grant previously used to pay the tuition is no longer available. Savings in transportation costs was over $14,000 per school year.

Bagby said that no student has been sent to Salt Creek Academy for two years, since LCHS initiated the alternative classroom. The class has satisfied the needs of students with discipline problems, dropout risks and other issues that would make them candidates for Salt Creek Academy. It is unlikely any students will be sent outside the district as long as the alternative classroom is open. The superintendent said that other schools have contacted him and offered tuition for their students to attend the alternative program. The board took no action on the SCA affiliation. 

A graduation ceremony for the Class of 2011 graduates of the alternative high school program will be on Jan. 31, from 5 to 6:30 p.m., in the auditorium. There are 16 students graduating.

Bagby met with superintendents of the feeder schools to coordinate calendars for 2012-2013. A consensus from administrators and teaching staff scheduled the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off and allowed two full weeks of time for the Christmas and New Year's holiday break. The next Education Cooperation Committee meeting is on Thursday.

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Administrative reports:

  • Principal Todd Poelker -- Jake Olson was the Student of the Month for December; guidance counselors will visit the feeder schools soon to speak with incoming freshmen; staff has begun the scheduling process for next school year.

  • Assistant Principal Rhonda Hyde -- Enrollment was 835 at the end of December, and the number of disciplinary actions has fallen. Parents who have moved, changed phone numbers, etc., should go to the school website and enter their new information on the Skyward Family Access. Early dismissals, school closings, canceled athletic events and other announcements are sent via the School Reach System, and contact data and other information should be as current as possible for the system to be effective. Questions should be addressed to Mrs. Hyde at 732-4131, ext. 238.

  • LTEC Director Bret Hitchings -- A lawyer has been consulted on the procedure and documents to use for a bidding process for the building trades house on North Sherman Street. Building trades classes during the next school year will work at the "twin sisters" houses on Pulaski Street. Additional projects are being considered to give students the same set of skills acquired from new construction. Plans and details are coming together for a cosmetology class for next school year. A proposal will be ready for the March school board meeting.

The next LCHS school board meeting is at 7 p.m. Feb. 20, in the library.





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