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School board approves $90K for tech upgrades

Staff writer

Marion-Florence USD 408 Board of Education responded to a report of the lagging status of district computer equipment Monday by authorizing up to $90,000 for new computer purchases.

“Technology is so rapidly changing. It’s exciting, but it’s a continuous expense to the district to keep computers upgraded,” Superintendent Lee Leiker said.

Leiker described the increasing use of computers for testing and curriculum, and how the aging computer base is increasingly inadequate to handle new software and the load placed on them.

“All of our teachers have laptop computers, and our teachers utilize the mobility for the advantage of the classroom and to do their work. That’s been a valuable thing. We’d like to replace 15 teacher units,” Leiker said.

“Our business lab is relatively aged, and there is a hodgepodge of different models of computers in there we would like to synchronize,” Leiker said.

Leiker said the computers on the mobile carts that are shared across classrooms are extensively utilized and should be a priority for upgrading.

“Those are all five, six, or seven years old. They simply don’t have the capabilities of doing some of the things teachers and students are capable of doing,” Leiker said. “We would also like to upgrade the computers for the four secretaries.”

Board president Chris Sprowls asked about the kind of computers that would be purchased to replace the laptops.

“Is there any advantage with the iPads vs. the mobile carts?” Sprowls asked.

Leiker referred to the work he has done with technology coordinator Forest Barger to assess computing needs in his answer.

“Forest is a little skeptical whether our network is ready for that, and a large part of it is managing that so that we meet all the regulations for security and restricted access to sites,” Leiker said. “I think that’s coming down the road for us.”

Marion Middle School Principal Missy Stubenhofer noted a significant drawback to iPads in the area of assessment.

“There is no testing software for the iPads,” Stubenhofer said. “I love my iPad, but I think we have to balance our purchase of iPads.”

Jan Helmer asked if there was a rotation plan in place for regular replacement of equipment.

“Do you ever see that happening so you don’t have to in five or six years spend $90,000?” Helmer asked. “You would know every year you were replacing all of those that are five years old.”

“That’s where we’re trying to get, to a five-year rotation, but I think it will be an $80,000 a year purchase for us to do that,” Leiker said.

The board unanimously approved a maximum of $90,000 to be spent for technology upgrades. The funds will come from the current year budget and from the capital outlay budget.

District logo

Leiker sought the input of the the board for a proposal from Kent Bolling, sales representative for Western Associates, Inc., for the company to create and market a logo for the district.

“I think that works well with a district that doesn’t have multiple companies in town to offer that product,” Leiker said, noting Express Print is another local business that has products similar to Western Associates.

“I have reservations going with one company on this concept. I don’t want to put the school district in a position of being in a battle between two companies,” Leiker said.

“If somebody sees a need, they will take bids from both companies. Part of working with both is that it keeps both of them honest as far as prices,” Leiker said.

Helmer said she had a conversation with Bolling in which she pointed out other options.

“The boosters can buy from whoever they desire to. I believe the elementary school PAC (parent advisory council) can buy from wherever,” Helmer said. “I said instead of getting the school in the middle of anything, you can go to those organizations.”

Board member Keith Collett said licensing of a logo would be a concern.

“Logos exist for the purpose of being copyrighted. I think the proposal here is that the copyright would be held by the company,” Collett said. “If you’re going to have a logo the school should own it. This is a little awkward.”

“There is no love lost between these two companies, and we are wise not to get in the middle of it,” board member Jeremiah Lange said.

“It’s just not good business for a public entity to do that,” Sprowls said.

“I think we’ll leave it the way it’s been,” Leiker said. “As a school-wide promotion we’re not going to get into that.”

In other business:

  • Following a 45-minute executive session to discuss personnel, the board extended half-time contracts to two people. Anita Hancock will teach music and Dani Lange will teach art at Marion Elementary School.
  • Collett announced his resignation from the board, effective at the end of May. Collett has been appointed magistrate district judge for Dickinson County, and is required to move to the county for the position. The board will appoint a person to fulfill the remaining year of Collett’s term.
  • The board authorized early release at 2.pm. on Friday for Marion High School to accommodate the regional track meet at Warriors Stadium. Buses will run their normal times and routes.
  • The board authorized early release of students on the final day of classes Tuesday. The high school will dismiss at 11:50 a.m., MMS at 12:30, and Marion Elementary School at 12:40. Buses will run at MHS at 12:35, and at MMS and MES at 12:40. The district will serve lunch prior to dismissal.
  • Leiker was authorized to purchase a 2006 Chevy Malibu from the Kansas state surplus inventory for $11,500.
  • A 1999 Dodge Caravan with 150,000 miles will be used for replacement parts for an identical vehicle damaged in an accident on school grounds, and will then be sold as surplus inventory.
  • Leiker was authorized to accept bids for a 78-passenger bus to replace an aging 72-seat bus used as a relief vehicle for current routes. The 72-seat bus will be sold as surplus inventory.
  • The board approved changes to the 2012-13 student handbooks for all three attendance centers.
  • PATHS director Cindy Vinduska gave a presentation about the after-school enrichment program. Grant funds used to operate the program will not be available next year. Vinduska asked the board to consider funding to retain the program when they being budget discussions.

The next board meeting is scheduled for June 11.

Last modified May 17, 2012

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