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School board discusses Chromebooks

Staff writer

Peabody-Burns Board of Education members discussed several times during their meeting about using Chromebooks in the classroom.

Chromebooks are portable computers that use Google systems, primarily for Internet use.

“This is the most exciting thing we’ve talked about since I’ve started working here,”
Superintendent Ron Traxson said. “I’m really excited about it.”

Some board members learned about Chromebooks at the annual Kansas Association of School Boards convention in Wichita last week.

Fort Hays State University and Shawnee Mission High School give information on how they have incorporated Chromebooks in their schools.

“It’s impressive to hear what they can do with Chromebooks,” Traxson said. “Fort Hays projects by 2015 school year no student will have to buy textbooks, they will all be on an app.”

Traxson said he hopes to begin looking at integrating Chromebooks into USD 398 classrooms next year.

“We’re looking at plans to purchase 60 machines at around $200 a piece to be used in second, fourth, and sixth grades,” he said. “The next year we will purchase more so the machines can move up in grades with the students.”

The use of Chromebooks would allow the school to go nearly paperless, for teachers to video record their classroom sessions and post them on YouTube, and to decrease the amount the school would spend on textbooks annually.

“The system gives every student and every parent an e-mail account through Google,” Traxson said. “This would increase the communication between teachers, parents, and students exponentially.

“This is something we need to discuss with the teachers and get their feel. It’s something we need to take the time to learn and take the first right step, instead of giving it to the teachers and saying here you go sink or swim.”

Traxson hopes to discuss the integration of Chromebooks more at the board’s next meeting Jan. 13.

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The board also accepted several grants.

A $900 Peabody Community Foundation grant was accepted for the elementary, middle, and high schools. A $200 grant to provide information on healthy foods to elementary students was accepted. A $45 grant was approved for the middle school for recipe supplies. A $250 grant was accepted to cover the cost of a spring family event at the elementary school.

A $994 grant was accepted so the elementary school could purchase 71 tone fit stability balls for the classrooms. The balls, much like core exercise balls replace chairs in the classroom and can help students focus.

“It gives the student something other than a hard wooden chair to focus on,” elementary school Principal Ken Parry said. “By focusing on how to stay stable on the ball they better focus on what is happening on the classroom because they get less distracted. I’m excited to put them in place and see how the teachers will utilize them.”

Parry said several teachers have already purchased balls for their classrooms. Several have also been donated.

In other business

  • The board met in executive session for 15 minutes to discuss the closure of the deal to return a 1932 Phaeton to owner Larry Sherer since the auto mechanic program was closed.
  • The board met in executive session for 15 minutes to discuss classified personnel.
  • The board met in executive session for 35 minutes to discuss certified personnel.
  • The board discussed options to replace one school suburban with a 10-passenger Ford van. Traxson discussed two bids received from Mel Hambelton Ford of Wichita and Shawnee Mission Ford for an E350 and E250 van. The board asked Traxson to obtain bids from Midway Motors in McPherson and Hillsboro Ford.

Last modified Dec. 11, 2013

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