Board ponders providing students with computers

News editor

A survey of Marion High School juniors taking honors English showed fewer than half had regular computer access at home, Principal Tod Gordon told USD 408 Board of Education on Monday.

In the survey, 62.5 percent said they had no access or limited access to a computer outside of school. Middle school Principal Missy Stubenhofer added that not even every teacher has Internet at home.

Gordon said all but one of the students surveyed supported issuing students computers that they could use at home, and all of them supported integrating computer technology into class work more. The survey was done at the end of a project in which students used Google tools to share and collaborate, he said.

Superintendent Lee Leiker said expanding technology use is an expensive proposition but something the district needs to plan on.

Board member Jan Helmer said USD 408 is lacking compared to a lot of schools on issuing computers or tablets to students. Nearby, Hillsboro and Centre provide students with devices, ranging from Apple iPods to laptop computers.

Leiker said he had checked prices on Google Chrome laptops, and they are available for about $200 and have the abilities the school would need.

No action was taken.

No Wednesday night, Sunday activities

The board voted to prohibit the use of school facilities, as well as school activities whether on school grounds or not, after 6 p.m. Wednesdays and at all on Sundays unless the activity has prior approval from the superintendent.

Leiker said he wanted to reserve those times for family and religion. He said many local churches are active on Wednesday nights.

Board member Jeremiah Lange, who is also pastor of Marion Presbyterian Church, said the Marion Ministerial Alliance was overwhelmingly in favor of the policy change. He added that one of the ministers was upset the policy didn’t also include Maundy Thursday.

Helmer said it would be unfair to force events that were already scheduled to cancel, such as youth basketball. Leiker said the board could let the youth basketball league finish its schedule, knowing that Wednesday nights and Sundays would be off the table in future years.

“There hasn’t been an NBA player come out of Marion,” board president Chris Sprowls said. “There hasn’t been an NFL quarterback.”

The policy was approved unanimously. At the board’s suggestion, Leiker said he would send letters to local churches notifying them of the policy.

The aquatics center is not covered by the policy.

In other news:

  • Sprowls and Leiker reported on the Kansas Association of School Boards convention. Leiker said he would like to have an early release day in early January so speaker Kevin Honeycutt, who also spoke at the convention, could talk to teachers.
  • The district’s property, liability, and vehicle insurance premiums increased about $18,000 to $132,150, Casey Case of Case & Son Insurance told the board. The biggest increase was in worker’s compensation insurance because of unusually high claims the past couple of years. He added that EMC Insurance, which insures about 80 percent of Kansas schools, released a notice that it wouldn’t insure any school that allowed concealed carry of firearms; Marion does not allow concealed carry.
  • Business teacher Megan Thomas said her class’ lip balm production and marketing project groups have all sold enough of their lip balm to pay off the loans they took to fund the projects, and anything more sold will be profit.
  • The board met in closed session with Leiker for 20 minutes to discuss personnel and negotiations. After returning to open session, the board voted to hire Maranata Sukessa as a cook at Marion Elementary School for $8.75 an hour.
  • The Technology Excellence in Education Network inservice will be Jan. 20 in Marion.
  • Board member and special education representative Duane Kirkpatrick reported Marion County Special Education Cooperative will request a 16.5 percent increase in funding from school districts to pay for health insurance required for paraeducators.
  • Leiker reported the activity bus broke down with a dead battery on its way to wrestling Saturday in Eskridge. The bus was in Council Grove when it broke down, and the Council Grove district loaned the team a bus to finish the trip.
  • After the normal meeting, board members toured school facilities.

 

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