District talks 1-to-1 technology at middle school

Jamie Hult, Staff writer
Eighty-six percent of Brandon Valley Middle School teachers who completed the survey are in favor of implementing 1-to-1 technology in classrooms – the system in which each student has a laptop, or similar device.
At the school board’s Oct. 23 meeting, Supt. Dr. Jarod Larson shared feedback from two surveys focusing on technology needs in the classroom. The surveys revealed the majority of BVMS teachers would like to see laptops or similar devices for each student.  
“The first step was figuring out what our teachers wanted. The needs survey indicated additional devices,” Larson said. “We’re exploring what I would call a quasi 1-to-1 environment at the middle school, where they check in, check out at the end of the day.” 
Six of the teachers surveyed were opposed. Concerns included middle school students’ ability to transport them safely between classrooms and the technology’s replacing pencil and paper.   
“It’s in its infancy,” Larson said. “We identified it with a teacher needs survey last spring, and the curriculum choices we’re in the process of making stimulated additional conversation. That conversation will continue, and we’ll see if we can create a feasible plan.”
The next step, he said, is to ask middle school teachers how they would incorporate the technology into their curriculum. Answers will determine what device would be best – laptop or otherwise – and allow administrators to make recommendations to the school board.   
“What it comes down to is feasibility and costs,” Larson said.
Board member Ellie Saxer said it might be prudent to look at providing younger grades with additional technology.
“Everything that’s being offered is more and more technology, so the more options teachers want to have is going the technology route. So, as we talk middle school options, we probably need to be surveying technology sooner rather than later,” Saxer said. “Because even if we put it off, technology is probably the route we’re going to be going eventually. That’s probably not just for the middle school; we’re probably going to have to be looking at that for all ages eventually.” 
One decision the school board won’t have to make is how to enforce discipline on Brandon Valley school busses. According to Larson, the district received 38 student conduct reports in the first quarter, compared to 71 last year.
“Utilizing the Lynx Way – ‘We are respectful,’ ‘We are safe’ – we have created what appears to be a common language, a common verbiage, that is having a positive impact on student behaviors,” Larson said.
“I am going to knock on wood now that the second quarter goes just as well, but overall this is really, really positive news.”
Larson also advised the school board of the scheduled Oct. 30 demolition of the former Dairy Queen at 230 S. Splitrock Blvd. Beck and Hofer Construction submitted the low bid of $23,000 to demolish the building, which the school district purchased in 2016. No plans have been made yet for the future use of that property, which is adjacent to the administration building. Additional student parking has been talked about, but Larson said that would require a variance approved by the city’s planning and zoning commission. 
“There is a safe way to cross the street but we would have to work with the state on the timing of the crosswalk so not to impede the flow of traffic,” Larson said.
Larson said the demolition was chosen over restoring the building. He quoted clean-up costs between $6,000 and $10,000.
“Quite honestly, I’m not comfortable having anyone occupy that building,” he said, noting substantial mold in the building.
The annual state aid enrollment count has the BVSD up 125 students over last fall. Enrollment was recorded in October at 4,057 students, compared to 3,932 at this time last year.
“It’s a nice growth. Right in that projection that we had,” Larson said. 


The Brandon Valley Journal


The Brandon Valley Journal
1404 E. Cedar St.
Brandon, SD 57005
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