SCC board sets May 19 for vote to purchase bank building
The St. Croix Central School Board scheduled a special meeting on Monday, May 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Middle School Library to conduct a vote by district residents to approve the purchase of the old Associated Bank Building at 915 Davis St. for a price of $175,000. The vote will precede the regular board meeting scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
“Taxes will not be increased to acquire this property. Funding for the purchase may come from a combination of the 2013-14 budget and the fund balance in the general fund,” said Board President Howard Kruschke.
In light of the ongoing discussions by the St. Croix Central Facilities Task Force (FTF), the old bank building is expected to house the SCC District Office, SCC Community Education, Alternative Education, a SCC District board room and other administrative offices, freeing up much needed space for additional classrooms at the middle school.
Middle School Principal Scott Woodington lead a presentation by members of the SCC Technology Committee which made the case for moving the district toward a technology based education by equipping faculty and students with the tools necessary to conduct education online. After extensive discussion and research the committee is recommending the purchase of Chromebook laptop computers using Google Chrome as the primary operating system and Google Apps for Education for all teachers and students grades 1-12. The committee estimated the cost for such a roll out would be $405,000 or about $300 per student computer. Replacement costs could run $110,000 annually.
Network Administrator Chad Konsela outlined the technical advantages of the Chromebook and Google operating system. The computer’s small footprint, projected three year life span and relative affordability make it a sensible choice. Google’s straightforward operating system takes advantage of cloud based applications which provide three ways to manage the system.
“These devices can be managed either through Chrome the OS (operating system), by the device itself or by the user. It’s all cloud based, so as long as that device can access the internet we can modify the settings for that user or device,” Konsela said.
Technology committee member Amanda Olson demonstrated how Google Apps can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom to increase productivity, enhance collaboration and expand accessibility for both teachers and students. From working with spreadsheets to administering real time quizzes and in-class assessments to sharing documents and lessons with the opportunity to ask questions anytime, she made the case for the future of online educating.
“If everyone in your classroom has a device, you can do a quick assessment, two or three questions at the end of the day to immediately assess how the lesson went. Students and teachers can share documents and all be working on the same documents at the same time,” Olson said.
Director John Hueg questioned the cost to repair a computer versus the cost to replace a broken pencil or lost notebook. He also questioned how such a program could keep pace with ever improving technology.
Woodington responded maintenance issues could be addressed through policy. The first time a computer needs to be repaired or replaced, the district would pay for it, but after that those costs would be the responsibility of the student.
Konsela explained that because of the cloud based nature of the Google operating system, a student’s profile once created would travel with him throughout his education at SCC. Updates can be made to the central system that flow out to the individual users. He added that many of the applications also work offline so students can still complete assignments without internet access.
Hueg asked whether there were any grant programs available to help pay for such a program. President Kruschke asked about the possibility of a leasing program or if money from the textbook budget would be available to contribute toward such a purchase.
Konsela said because of the district’s low free and reduced ratio he had not seen where the district could qualify for a grant. Olson was not familiar with any lease options but felt it would be worth investigating. Woodington said the cost to lease an online text over a number of years generally equated to the cost to buy the same text physically so any substantial savings is unlikely.
- The board approved a new one year food service contract with Chartwells.
- The board tabled approval of a Construction Management Contract with Miron Construction. Director Jeff Redmon felt the submitted contract prematurely assumed a construction project as the result of the FTF. He recommended that the board have the district’s attorney draw up a contract which more accurately reflected the duties of Miron with regard to planning and preparing for a referendum on the anticipated project.
- The board recognized the outstanding contribution of High School Language Arts/German teacher Mary Lucking during her 35 years of teaching at St. Croix Central. Lucking memorialized the responsibility of a teacher in an original poem she read before the board: “It’s about learning for students, learning for parents, learning for teachers. The achievement to perfection stretches each fiber, elusive yet within grasp. Twelve interwoven years create the fabric of the future.”
- Principal Woodington recognized Paulette Anderson for her tireless work behind the scenes of the YMCA’s Youth in Government Program transporting students to the various activities.