Mitchell principal pleads for more technologySchool board also hears about lunch changes, scholarship program's success.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Longfellow Elementary School Principal Joe Childs used a portion of Monday’s Mitchell school board meeting, which was held at his school, to demonstrate that technology isn’t just for the big kids.
Childs showed a nearly 10-minute-long iMovie he quickly assembled earlier that day to lobby for more technology for elementary school students.
“I’m trying to convince you folks to get iPads for the entire student population,” Childs said after showing his iMovie.
Childs said donations from the school’s parent-teacher organization and some Title I funds were used to purchase 10 iPads, which are shared by two classes at his school as part of a pilot project.
Childs said his school’s PTO and some parents have raised enough cash to buy another five iPads, which parents will be able to check out and use at home with their children.
Using an iPad, Childs entered the classrooms of second-grade teacher Cathy VerSteeg and fourth-grade teacher Bobby Reindl, and conducted brief interviews with students and teachers.
Students had no warning he was coming, Childs said.
In brief segments, Childs interviewed kids as they learned about fractions, decimals and other math skills.
“They learned (how to use the technology) faster than I did,” Reindl said of his students. He said his students use the iPads to teach themselves skills at their own pace. Students check off the assigned skills as they are learned. The iPads also free up time so he can work one-on-one with students who need extra help.
Versteeg said the students can use an application called Keynote to share what they’ve learned with fellow students on the class’s iTV.
Childs asked one child what she thought was the “neatest thing” about the iPads. Her answer was brief and to the point. “Everything,” she said.
“We will eventually need more technology to push in this direction,” Childs told the board.
“Textbook companies are going to have to get with the paperless world, or it will move beyond them,” he said.
Superintendent Joe Graves said fewer students are eating school lunches as a result of new U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines.
“We believe the participation numbers are down because of the meals they are being served,” Graves said. “There are students who don’t feel they are getting enough to eat and what’s being served is not to their taste.”
The cutback in participation has less effect on lower grades than upper grade levels, he said.
At the high school, which has an open campus, students go off campus in their search for more food as well as food more to their liking.
Parents have complained that the guidelines, which cut back protein and portion sizes of some foods, do not supply adequate nutrition for active students.
Changes to the school lunch menu should be coming soon.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a Friday letter to Congress backed off earlier directives limiting the amount of meats and grains in school lunches.
In final comments on the district report card, Graves said the Mitchell Community Scholarship Program is now 10 years old.
Last year, there were 159 scholarships awarded of between $500 and $550 each for a total award of over $82,000, he said. The endowment for the program is now at $250,000, he said.
Board member Neil Putnam said the city of Belle Fourche and other South Dakota communities are looking at the scholarship program with an eye to starting similar programs of their own.
The board also:
Voted unanimously to raise the pay of students participating in the federal work study program from $7.50 to $8 an hour, starting Jan. 1. The change, said Mitchell Technical Institute Chief Financial Officer Michael Hoffman, will keep the program more competitive with local wages. Employers pay 25 percent of a participant’s wage and the program pays the remainder. In past years, several MTI students have worked in various county offices under the work study program.
Voted 4-0 to cast the board’s vote in favor of Neil Putnam to be on the Associated School Boards of South Dakota’s Board of Directors. Putnam abstained. Kathy Greeneway, of the Yankton School District, was the other candidate considered.
Approved, as part of a consent agenda, the following personnel items:
Resignation: Dawn Olsen, food service, Mitchell Technical Institute, effective Dec. 7.
New hire: Kimberly Jarding, food service, L.B. Williams Elementary, 5.5 hours daily at $9.99 an hour, effective Nov. 26.