Laconia schools seek to connect each & every student to Internet through like devices

LACONIA — The School Board got its first look at a proposed three-year technology plan Tuesday night that aspires to eventually provide each student with one-to-one access to an electronic device so they can work in the same operating system.

By using this strategy, the district hopes to remove the poverty barrier that often bars less affluent children from using capable electronic devices. The strategy will also allow students to have access to research, to publish their work, to share their work with other learners and to receive feedback from their peers and teachers.

To accomplish this, the district in 2015 plans on getting a baseline number of students who have their own devices and whose parents are willing to allow them to bring them to school.

By 2016, the district hopes to have district-owned devices in place for the students who can't otherwise provide them for themselves. These devices would stay at school.

By year three, or 2017, the district's goals is to have a classroom policy that welcomes and encourages electronic education aids to the extent such devises are integrated into all areas of study.

School Board members questioned liability issues surrounding students bringing in their own equipment. Asst. Superintendent Kirk Beitler said he would look into the liability question but acknowledged the technical support team would not be able to service privately owner computers.

The district also plans on improving wireless Internet access at the high school and evaluate the need for more online access at the middle and elementary levels.

In 2015, the plan is to upgrade the Internet system to accomplish this.

By 2016, the goal is to have the groundwork and wireless network "backbone" for the one-to-one ratio of student to device in place and by 2017 have at least a pilot program at the high school where every student has access to an up-to-date electronic device.

The technology plan also calls for upgrading 20 percent of schools' computer networks  annually and to continue to review the tech support staff capabilities to adhere to state guidelines.

Tracking student progress is an integral part of the district's proposed technology plan and the goal is to have the tracking tools necessary to do evaluations as soon as possible.

Another goal for the district is technology literacy, whereby students can master the competencies needed for creativity, communication and collaboration, research and information gathering, critical thinking, operations and digital citizenship.

These standards are set by the International Society for Technology Education Standards for Students (ITSE).

The three-year plan also aims to work on professional development for teachers and aid around the use of technology and to encourage community partners and parents to expand their own Internet communications with the school district.

The plan also calls for an 2014-2015 budget of $359,051 with $199,511 for salaries for technicians and the balance for a webmaster, software, new equipments, and contracted services.

School Board member Mike Persson said he would like to see more community input into the plan, suggesting meeting with various PTOs and local businesses for possible financial help and suggestions as well as the technology department at the Lakes Region Community College.

Chair Chris Guilmett said the district expects the updated 3-year technology plan should be in place by the beginning of the new school year in late August.