Chris Brown, the Fremont County School District #1 Director of Technology, spoke to the Fremont #1 School Board regarding the “One-to-One Instructional Technology Initiative” at Lander Valley High School. In the 2014-2015 school year, every student who chooses not to use his/her own personal computing device will receive a school-owned Chromebook for use both at school and away from school for educational activities.
A Chromebook is a low-cost “cloud computing” device that connects to a student’s Google Apps for Education account and provides document editing, student email, collaboration, and internet research. In addition, students and teachers will use Schoology, an online learning management system, to view daily coursework, receive and submit assignments, participate in on-line class discussions, and access teacher-provided resources such as videos and links. Students can also access their district-provided school email as well as other school information, such as library materials and career planning guidance. The new Collections curriculum for high school Language Arts which was adopted during the Tuesday night meeting has an online textbook that students will be able to view on their Chromebooks.
Dr. Lisa Hafer, LVHS Principal, and Carrie Johnson, Technology Instructional Facilitator, explained to the Trustees how the current pilot project with seniors and select juniors helped identify strengths and areas that needed to be addressed before LVHS moved to the one-to-one initiative for all students at the school. LVHS students Ella Welsh and Kamille Brough offered their insights regarding their experiences in this year’s pilot and how it has benefited their schoolwork and increased their academic engagement.
The team addressed some of the anticipated challenges and issues still to be resolved. Some parents have had questions about how the initiative will affect students who do not
have internet connectivity at home and how to accommodate students who prefer to bring their own devices in lieu of using the school’s Chromebooks. Two parent meetings at LVHS have been scheduled for this week, and two more will be held in August to provide parents a chance to learn about the initiative. Additional information for parents will also be posted on the district website by the first week of June.
The school board reviewed and adopted major revisions to two curriculum areas. The curriculum for English/Language Arts was revised to be in alignment with the 2012 Wyoming English/Language Arts standards, and the Foreign Language curriculum was revised to align with the 2013 Wyoming Foreign Language standards. Trustee Bruce Palmer said that he is a member of the Curriculum Coordinating Council and feels the process of curriculum revision was conducted collaboratively with individuals who will be impacted by the new curricula having an opportunity to express their ideas. The Board also accepted the recommendation to purchase the Houghton Mifflin Journeys textbooks for grades K-5 and the Houghton Mifflin Collections textbooks for grades 6-12. These new English/Language Arts materials will be the primary resources used to teach the adopted curriculum. Students in grades 9-12 will be able to use the digital version of the Collections textbooks with traditional hard-copy books available as needed.
Trustee Bruce Palmer presented a resolution for the Trustees to consider submitting to the Wyoming School Boards Association in November. The resolution is “to encourage the Wyoming School Boards Association to promote a change to the State of Wyoming state law that presently provides for an exemption from the collection of severance taxes for flared gas.” Mr. Palmer explained to the Trustees that the Wyoming Constitution does not allow waiving of the taxes on the extracted natural gas, even though it is not sold. He also explained that his resolution is based on the harm to the environment done by flaring the natural gas, that our state is not being a good steward of our resources by allowing the flaring, and that the state is not exercising fiduciary responsibility in that money is not being collected for the flared natural gas which should go to schools to the Permanent School Trust fund. After a great deal of discussion, the Trustees approved the resolution to submit to WSBA.
Other items from the Board meeting included:
- Recognized LVHS Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) students who qualified for national competition. John Rounds, FBLA sponsor, introduced Rachel Giesmann, co-sponsor, and told the Trustees that the club was re-chartered five years ago, and five years ago there were nine students who went to the state competition from LVHS. This year, there were 32 students who went to state, and that was the fifth most of any high school in the state. Of the 32 students, 23 qualified for national competition, and that is the second most of any high school in Wyoming.
- Approved the BOCHES budget for 2014-15. BOCHES is the organization that provides concurrent enrollment classes with FCSD#1 high school classes and Central Wyoming College. This year 161 LVHS students took a total of 582 classes through concurrent enrollment.
- Accepted the resignation of Superintendent of Schools, Mike Bowman, with regret and best wishes. Dr. Bowman announced that he is retiring after 39 years in education, 34 of them as a school administrator.