School districts cover alternative high school, new technology
Ryan Summerlin October 9, 2012
North and South Summit School Districts are scheduled to hold Board of Education meetings Thursday, and the two districts will cover issues ranging from creating an alternative high school to creating a one-to-one iPad program.
The South Summit Board of Education agenda includes continued discussions for a new district office and the possibility of adding an alternative high school for disruptive students to those offices. South Summit School District Superintendent Barry Walker said he included preliminary discussions for an alternative high school in this month’s agenda so the board could consider whether or not adding a classroom to new district offices a point discussed last month made sense.
Creating an alternative high school has been a talking point in the district for years, Walker said, but this is the first time the issue will be presented to the board. A more in-depth feasibility study will be presented to the board in November.
"With the new district offices, the board wanted to talk about it again," Walker said. "Last month, an architectural firm came in and talked about the possibilities and now they will continue that discussion and possibly make a decision on whether or not to move ahead with the project."
Thursday will be the first time creating an alternative high school is presented to board members, but as the school district continues to expand, Walker said pressure from school officials is increasing.
"It is important that the board knows the high school is looking at an alternative high school. If a student is in alternative high school, it means they were so disruptive that teachers wanted to pull them out and put them in another setting."
Walker said that if an alternative high school were created, it would most likely run at different times than the main high school and serve disruptive students in a smaller setting with more one-on-one attention. Class sizes would start somewhere between 10 and 15 students, he added. The high school would use teachers already on staff to run the program, if approved by the board.
"It is something that has to be advantageous as far as giving students that don’t really conform to a traditional classroom environment a chance to meet the graduation requirements," said Steve Camp, the Principal for the South Summit High School. "Being in a small school district, an alternative high school is contingent on the population and the need We see it as something we need to watch for, that growth is coming our way."
The South Summit Board of Education is scheduled to meet Thursday starting at 5:45 p.m. in the School District Board Room located at 375 East 300 South in Kamas.
The North Summit Board of Education plans to discuss adding a one-to-one iPad program, which Superintendent Jerre Holmes said he hopes will launch in January. The pilot program tentatively developed by the district would issue an iPad to freshmen, sophomores and juniors. Roving carts that can be moved from classroom to classroom would be available for classes in the middle and elementary schools.
"We feel like technology is the way of the future," Holmes said. "It won’t be long before all textbooks will be technologically delivered rather than in paper form."
"We believe that this generation learns better through technology," he added. "We want to be ahead of the game, because it’s coming. Now is good time for this program. We have the funds in our capital budget, and I can’t think of a better way to spend that kind of money other than putting it in the hands of our kids."
Board members will hear from a teacher in the district on the potential impacts in the classroom, including digital textbooks, educational apps and interactive learning opportunities. In last month’s Board of Education meeting, members were first exposed to the idea and were receptive, Walker said. But this month, the discussion will delve more into how feasible the pilot program is and what room there is in the budget.
"The reception was good, but board members had some questions," Walker said. "One concern was that kids will have these devices at home and what dangers we might run into with Internet security and safety."
Walker said the district would look into creating a filter server for the devices and would most likely hire an outside company to manage the iPads. Students would also pay into an insurance program to maintain them.
Board members are expected to vote on whether or not to accept the pilot program in the Thursday meeting.
The North Summit Board of Education is scheduled to meet Thursday starting at 6:30 p.m. in the district offices located at 65 South Main Street in Coalville.