Board passes technology check-out policy
The Verona Area School Board passed a policy Monday that would allow students to take technology devices such as iPads or Chromebooks home with them from the classroom.
The policy comes as the district expands the technology it uses in classrooms, specifically in the new Exploration Academy high school, which will be the only school to use the technology policy for now.
“We’re going to start small, if they feel there’s a readiness level or some specific circumstances … to bring those forward,” said district technology director Betty Wottreng. “Right now we’re looking at Exploration Academy as being our first run.”
The policy will offer parents a chance to pay a $20 fee that would limit their liability to $100 for the first incident if the device is damaged or lost while it’s outside of the school. Parents would also have the option to opt out of the fee, but would then have to cover the entire cost to repair the device in the case of damage.
Board member Joanne Gauthier worried about parents who would not want the devices brought home, but eventually the group agreed finding out the scope of that issue will be part of the experimental process this policy goes through in its first year.
“What steps will be taken if a parent says ‘I don’t want this at home?’ How is each teacher going to know that’s what’s happened?” Gauthier said.
Wottreng and the board decided to add options to a web portal that is currently being built offering parents the option to either pay the fee, not pay the fee but have the device and be liable for damage or refuse to have the device sent home.
While only the Exploration Academy will use the policy this fall, Wottreng said middle schools might use it second semester. Regardless of what happens this year, she and superintendent Dean Gorrell said the need will only continue to grow.
“There will come a day in the not-too-distant future where there will be more devices that will be mobile and have the opportunity to go home, and if we have the opportunity for a dry run…I don’t think that’s a bad thing,” Gorrell said.
The policy passed unanimously.
Open Enrollment numbers
Gorrell gave the board the final third Friday attendance count in the district, including a summary of open enrollment.
The district has 257 total students open enrolling into VASD, and 115 open enrolling out, including 65 new students this year.
However, Gorrell noted that 50 of the 65 new open enrollment out students have never attended a VASD school, meaning their families have recently moved but wanted to continue their schooling where they had been previously.
VASD business manager Chris Murphy said the district should expect to see a continued increase in open enrolling out students due to changes in the laws and a larger window to request open enrollment.
“We still have a big positive net, but that increase definitely went up this year. With what we’re seeing in the way the laws are and the window being bigger, I think that’s something that we’ll continue to see,” Murphy said, adding that open enrollment revenue is always on a year-to-year basis and used for one-time expenditures.
Substitute teacher pay
The board voted to increase pay for substitute teachers in the district from $102 per day to $112.
VASD director of human services Jason Olson noted the average among Dane County school districts is $110.73, so the district had trouble finding subs at certain points this year.
The $112 rate is on par with Middleton and McFarland, and Murphy said the increase could cost the district up to around $70,000.
The board also approved the schedule for planning the 2014-15 budget.
The citizens’ budget meeting will be June 3, 2014 and the budget hearing and annual meeting will take place Aug. 18, 2014.