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Board gets first look at district technology plan
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

May 08. 2013 10:34AM
The Brandon Valley Board of Education got their first look at an instructional technology proposal that could have some sort of digital device in the hands of every teacher and student in the Brandon Valley School District.

But Marge Hauser, director of instruction, says it’s too early in the planning process to determine just when those devices will become available.

“We’re in the talking stage now and there will be more meetings before any decisions are made,” she said. “We don’t want the public to go nuts and think their taxes are going up. But this is not going to happen overnight, as we’re looking for the best option for Brandon Valley. We’re not doing it because our neighbors have it.”

Both the Sioux Falls and Harrisburg districts have announced their plans to put devices in the hands of every student.

Since February, a 27-member committee has been working on the instructional technology plan.

Hauser said when discussions first began the plan was about having devices. The focus, however, has turned to how the devices can make learning more effective and efficient, she said.

The plan, which is in its infant stage, is to first equip he teaching staff with the devices. “They need to know how to use these first,” Hauser said of the 110-member teaching staff.

Hauser again stressed that to implement technology district wide will be several years in the making. Hauser said the cost to fully implement the program is not known at this time.

“Technology is a tool. It’s not something that we need … but we need to understand that it is a tool and that the real core to all of this is the education,” said board president Jay Rasmussen.

Superintendent Dave Pappone said the technology will come at a cost.

“One thing that the board needs to remember is that both those districts (Sioux Falls and Harrisburg) have opt-outs that generate hundreds of dollars per student than Brandon Valley has, so we’re not on an even playing field,” he said. “If they’re raising more money, they can invest more money.”

Of the approximate 1,000 district students surveyed, less than 5 percent indicated they do no have Internet access at home.

Facility Needs Committee update
Gregg Ode updated the board on the progress of the 25-member Facility Needs Assessment Committee.

“We had really good response and good input,” he said, adding that committee members expressed they want to the district to remain a one high school district.

Ode said the group supports a 5-6 grade building and a 7-8 building, but the location of the proposed building remains undecided. The district has land on the current middle school site, as well as acres adjacent to Robert Bennis Elementary.

Ode said the group will meet at least two more times before co-chairpersons Mike Klumpp and Jean Bender present the committee’s recommendation to the board on June 10.

“The timeline for the 5-6 building is pretty obvious,” Pappone said. “Unless something changes, we’ll be over full in the 2015-16 school year, so we’ll need this building by then.”

Missed days
To date, classes have been called off five days for weather-related purposes.

Administrators scheduled two snow days into the calendar, which were made up April 26 and 29, leaving three days. The board is expected to approve making up two of the three days, making the final day of classes May 23.

Because Brandon is the host site for the first day of the state track meet, Pappone said holding classes that day would create parking and staffing issues.

Pappone explained to the board that students have exceeded the state minimum hours of instruction.
“In general terms, it’s hard for me to say I would give up any instructional time,” Pappone said. “But we have some legitimate issues, so I would recommend forgiving one day of instruction and giving the teachers time to finish up their work.”

The board will vote on the matter at their May 13 meeting.

Board member Sue Hegland suggested more snow days be built into the school calendar. Board members Sandy Klatt and Renee Ullom agreed.

The board approved the following new hires for the 2013-14 school year:

Gena Sershen, FAE 5th grade; Jeremy VanHeel and Joe Krivarchaka, BE 4th grade; Jesse Johnson, RBE 1st grade; Jeff Lockner, high school “B” team girls basketball coach; Magie Youngberg, high school freshmen girls basketball coach; Taya Sazama, middle school assistant girls basketball coach; Stephanie Sparks, BVMS special education; Macy Schultz, BVMS speech language pathologist; Kayla Jensen, BE 1st grade; Jody Woehl, BE 1st grade; Mali Teller, district-wide speech language pathology assistant; Tanya Palmer, VSE principal and reading specialist; Michael Weeldreyer, assistant middle school wrestling coach; Jack Mueller, middle school wrestling coach; Aaron Carroll, assistant middle school boys basketball coach; and Michael Zerr, head boys tennis coach.

The board also accepted the resignation/retirement notices from Kristi Nelson, VSE principal; Billie Taylor, RBE 3rd grade; Kendra Namanny, head middle school volleyball coach; and Jessica Hunsaid, assistant middle school volleyball coach.

Administrators are proposing putting technology into the hands of every student who attends Brandon Valley. The discussion, however, has just begun. Challenger file photo

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