By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
Little Falls Community Schools Technology Director Mark Diehl revealed his plans to keep the district’s technology on the cutting edge. During Monday night’s School Board meeting, he presented ideas on moving technology forward in the schools and the Board voted unanimously to approve his plan.
Diehl said that prior to 2008, the district had neglected its technology systems, allowing them to become inefficient.
“Since then, Little Falls has become a leader in educational technology and districts from around the state and across the nation call on Little Falls to talk about how technology is improving the educational process,” he said.
Because technology empowers students, it’s how they learn, communicate and socialize, Diehl said. Students are digital natives and are wired to learn using technology.
“Resources To Engage All Learners (Project REAL) should focus on the improvement of digital-age teaching and learning,” he said. Teachers need to continue training on the best practices for utilizing the mobile devices in the classrooms. Plus, he said, the elementary schools’ staff needs to be trained and prepared for the arrival of iPads in their classrooms beginning in 2014.
For the near future, Diehl said the district needs to upgrade the network from six gigabytes to 10 gigabytes, replace the network switches and connect all the district sites via fiber optic.
Diehl told the Board the district’s current five-year lease on server infrastructure will be up in 2012, and it will need to look at new server equipment, which is already a budgeted item.
“We need to update computer labs to work with the current testing requirements from the Minnesota Department of Education as well as local testing initiatives,” he said. “The district needs to look at a replacement cycle for the smart board LCD projectors beginning in 2013, and establish a new Internet content filtering agreement by the fall of 2013.”
diehl told the Board that as the use of technology grows within the district, the need for additional technical support will also grow. He also said the district will need to continue to look for ways to improve efficiencies in technical support processes and practices.
Because information today is immediately available, it is imperative that Little Falls Community Schools keeps up, said Diehl. He would like to:
• Develop more content for the Web site, provided by a group of people, and use social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus to distribute information;
• Replace the District’s 20-year-old public address system; and
• Create a simpler and more efficient solution for podcasting and explore the implementation of a district public access television channel.
Diehl would also like to install Internet Protocol-based cameras replacing the analog cameras when they quit working.
While Diehl could not give board members a dollar amount to pay for all this, he told them the district needs to look at ways to increase its revenue plus decrease its expenses in the area of technology through cooperative purchasing and hosted service models.
Little Falls School Board briefs
On Monday night, Little Falls School Board members also:
• Voted to name Jay Spillum as the board chair, Sharon Ballou as the vice chair and Cathy Adamek as the clerk/treasurer;
• Voted to keep the board member remuneration the same as last year. The amount is limited to a $300 per month stipend, a one-time $300 annual stipend to the board chair; a $100 per day stipend for any board member required to perform official business for a full day (at least six hours); a $50,000 term life insurance policy for each board member; and the establishment of a development fund for mileage, travel costs, registrations, etc. There is an annual cap of $2,500 per board member;
• Changed the beginning time of Monday board meetings to 5:30 p.m., while the commencement of the Tuesday meetings would remain at 6 p.m.;
• Learned from Business Manager Nancy Henderson that about 2,435 students are projected to be enrolled at Little Falls Community Schools for the 2012-13 school year;
• Tabled the vote on a two-year lease of district property to Scott Doroff until the administration learns what the average rental costs are for the area;
• Approved the pay equity report as presented by Henderson;
• Approved the termination of Camille Lies and Joan Jendro, kitchen assistants at Dr. S.G. Knight Elementary School, for cause;
• Named the Morrison County Record as its official newspaper;
• Authorized Henderson to invest excess district funds and execute various documents as are necessary for those investments;
• Voted to allow Superintendent Curt Tryggestad to identify and recommend the elimination, reduction or modification to district services, staff, positions, programs offerings and/or other areas for the 2012-13 school year, as needed; and
• Accepted a $3,600 donation from Crow Wing Power for a scholarship fund; $25 from Wells Fargo Community Support Campaign for the Lindbergh Elementary School; $25.02 from the Wells Fargo Matching Gift Program to Dr. S.G. Knight Elementary School; $25 from Joe Nathan for the Little Falls Community Schools; $400 from Unity Family Healthcare to the District Wellness Program; and $50 from Coborn’s to the Little Falls Community Middle School Family and Consumer Science Department;
The next School Board meeting will be held at the Morrison County Government Center Monday, Jan. 23, at 5:30 p.m.