BUCKHANNON – Upshur County Board of Education members recently received an update on the one-to-one devices to be doled out to each Upshur County School student for the 2020-2021 school year Thursday. At the same June 11 meeting, they also unanimously approved the acquisition and installation of smart TVs for Apple devices.
Quinten Oldaker, technology systems specialist for Upshur County Schools, told members he has been speaking with Apple every single day and said the teacher iPads are in production right now.
“They should be in within the next few weeks,” Oldaker said. “I have my test Mac here with me, and we are using it to test the integration. This is still an ongoing process, and we will meet with Apple again on Friday.”
Oldaker said they are looking for a mid-July delivery date for the devices, which he said is a ‘loose date’ due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the protests and rioting.
“We are moving full-force ahead,” he said. “I am talking with Apple every day, and they are a great group to work with. For the last four Wednesdays, beginning at 9 a.m., Apple has been providing our school community with different kinds of professional development with apps that will be on the iPads and MACs as well. They are an hour session that anyone in our school system can attend.”
He said the feedback from the sessions has been completely positive.
“Everyone has said they are learning a lot, and the Apple instructors said those participating are asking great questions,” Oldaker reported. “Those taking the classes have great ideas. They are excited, we are excited. There have been between 40 and 60 people participating in each course.”
Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said that Upshur County Schools service personnel have been taking advantage of the Apple courses as well.
“A lot of our aides have been jumping on and learning right with them as well,” Oldaker said. “So, it has been fantastic. We appreciate them for doing that.”
Next, Oldaker spoke about the Smart TVs, saying that currently in classrooms throughout Upshur County, there is a wide variety of projection sources.
“This is anywhere from interactive TVs, which we have a few of; we have Smart boards, Interwrite boards and Intelliboards, but they have hit their life expectancy. We can no longer get parts for these older boards any longer,” he said.
Oldaker said some of the pens that go with these older boards have been dying, and they cost upwards of $125 each to replace. He said with the projectors, the bulbs in them cost almost as much as a new projector to replace, and projectors cost several hundred dollars.
“We need something else,” he said. “While going to the Apple one-to-one, we are going to revolutionize our classrooms – why not keep this going and get our classrooms fully interactive?”
Oldaker said when he taught at French Creek, he had a Smart TV in his classroom, and it was on all day, adding his students loved interacting through the Smart TV and the tactile experience it provided.
“Currently, a lot of our middle school classrooms and all of our high school classrooms just have a projector on the wall and have no interactivity,” he said. “There is no interaction – they just sit there and watch.”
Stankus said the Smart TVs are $1,300 each, adding that if you purchase a bulb and a pen for the older projectors, there will be a savings with the parts being replaced with the antiquated equipment, which do not sync up with the new iPads.
“I think it is going to create an environment where our teachers can use the tools better,” Stankus said. “But the life expectancies are much longer with the Smart TVs than with the projectors.”
Oldaker said the order for the Smart TVs would be for approximately 214.
Stankus noted the curriculum directors are already talking about electronic textbooks.
“Electronic textbooks could be available for students who don’t want to carry textbooks home,” Stankus said. “That is going to be an option for us.”
BOE President Dr. Tammy Jo Samples said she thought that was a good option.
Also, during Thursday’s meeting BOE members took the following actions:
- Voted to approve a memorandum of understanding with the Upshur County Health Department for $6,000, which would include issuing food establishment permits for all nine school cafeterias, sanitation permits for all schools, food establishment permits for middle and high school athletic concession stands, provide food handler certifications for all kitchen staff and all students enrolled in ProStart, provide environmental health education to agricultural students at B-UHS, provide environmental consultative services and accept expired medications and medical sharps used by the BOE nurses for disposal.
- Voted to approve the BOE meeting schedule for the 2020-2021 school year.
- Voted to approve the sale of property located at Tucker Street in Buckhannon.
- Voted to approve a memorandum of understanding with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office and the Upshur County Commission for the Prevention Resource Officer Program for the 2020-2021 school year.
- Voted to approve Policy 3004/3005 on its third reading. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Debra Harrison said the policy refers to wording in the substance abuse policy and added they received no public comments about the policy changes.
- Voted to approve the personnel changes as presented.
- Voted to appoint Linda Regel to the Upshur County Library Board.