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Kaneland schools OK $225K technology upgrade

District 302 to purchase computer devices for students

SUGAR GROVE – A significant technology upgrade won approval at Monday night’s Kaneland School District 302 Board meeting, though board members said they wished there were more specifics about the plan.

Board members voted, 6-1, to approve the purchase of devices for students at a cost of $225,000. The plan is to bring the ratio to one device for every three students in the district, Kaneland officials said.

Board member Tony Valente voted against the proposal. He said there is “no specific plan to specifically use these devices in specific ways.” He also said he feared the cost eventually would be more than $225,000 because the devices likely would need to be repaired or replaced.

He wasn’t alone in that sentiment. Board member Peter Lopatin said he voted for the plan because “I do think it’s necessary,” but he said the technology budget likely would continue to take up a higher percentage of the district’s budget that “would, in fact, pay for quite a few teachers.”

Board member Gale Pavlak said she also supported the plan but said: “I agree with Tony. I would like to see what the plan is. I would like a little more information.”

The plan calls for the district to purchase 679 student devices – 91 iPad minis and 205 Chromebooks for elementary students; 147 Chromebooks for middle school students; and 236 Chromebooks for high school students.

District officials have talked about how improved technology was important to students’ learning experiences. Though Kaneland recently opted not to continue with a plan for a blended-learning consortium of school districts, officials said online learning is essential. For instance, officials said some companies providing content for Common Core no longer are making textbooks or paper options.

According to a school district memo, officials said “as we review materials adoption for 2014-2015, we have found for the first time that the best Common Core materials … are fully online and would require class sets of devices, such as Chromebooks, in order to implement them.”

In another vote, board members opted not to raise parking fees at Kaneland High School, and they tabled discussion on whether to increase the fee for hot lunches. One proposal was to raise parking fees by $20 – from $180 to $200 – but board members were opposed to that. As far as hot lunches, district officials said the fees must be raised to be compliant with the Illinois State Board of Education. Currently, they said, the fee of $2.15 is 50 cents below the compliance rate.

Board members sought more information about whether the district could implement a fee increase in smaller increments, as well as what the ramifications would be if the district were not in compliance.

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