CISD trustees at Monday’s board meeting approved district-wide technology upgrades for all campuses, including iPads for the two middle schools.
Trustees first discussed and approved spending out of the state funded Instructional Materials Allotment. The IMA took the place of what was once textbook funding.
“Instead of the state adopting the books for us, they send us the money,” Assistant Superintendent Tammy Bright said.
Dr. Chris Jackson, director of secondary education, discussed what needed to be done to ensure all classrooms were at a technology base level: classrooms should have a computer capable of effectively running all necessary instructional software, an LCD projector for everyday instruction and a document camera. The upgrades are being called “phase one” of an extensive technology upgrade.
“Although these items are in most rooms in the district, I can’t say they are in all rooms,” Jackson said. “Jerry [Smith, director of technology,] and I did a survey to make sure all rooms were accounted for. We wanted to know what was in each classroom. We got 450 responses and cross-referenced with campus maps, visited classrooms for which no survey was received. We have a very good snapshot across the district for what we have currently.”
The IMA balance as of Monday was $925,000, and upgrades are expected to cost about $196,198. Upgrades include projectors, lamp bulbs, document cameras, computers and RAM upgrades.
The available IMA funding must be spent by Aug. 31, or the district could lose it, Bright said. It is unsure whether the money would roll over or if the state will give another IMA.
“The state didn’t give us any guidelines until about January or February of last school year,” Bright said. “They kept changing what was allowable, what was not allowable. We started talking about [what we needed to buy] but we didn’t know what we were able to do. We have to spend all of this money by Aug. 31 in this allotment, and hopefully the state will give us another allotment.”
Superintendent Tim Miller said he was happy with the way the IMA committee looked at the “big picture” and chose to purchase items that would last a long time.
“Are other school districts taking a similar approach in using IMA funds for similar purchases?” asked Trustee Dewayne Burns.
Jackson said they were.
“Yes, most districts are looking at their technology needs,” Jackson said. “I can’t think of any school district that has not went with some technology approach for some of their funds.”
Trustee Stu Madison said he believed phase one was a step in the right direction.
“If we can afford phase one, we should absolutely do phase one,” he said. “Some is better than none. My daughter does not have an encyclopedia; she probably doesn’t even know what one is. When she has the question, ‘Do geckos hibernate?’ She goes to Google. On a laptop. [Technology] holds their attention.”
Phase two, briefly discussed, includes the purchase of supplemental instructional technology targeted in core subject areas and aligned to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness and End of Course assessments.
Such purchases could include Chromebooks, iPads or laptops, items that would likely only be used in the classroom and not taken home. Further phase two discussions and purchases are being saved for a later date.
Other technology purchases approved Monday include the use of Title One funds to supply Smith and Wheat middle schools with iPads and necessary accessories.
Title One federal funds go to schools that are in school improvement because of their Adequate Yearly Progress scores. Miller said Smith is expected to meet AYP again this year and leave Stage One improvement; Wheat is in Stage Two improvement and will remain in it for another year, pending students meet AYP.
“These funds that we have are strictly because these schools are in campus improvement,” Bright said. “It’s that good and bad side of federal requirements. It’s bad because you have the extra compliance, it’s good because you get a little extra funding.”
The total cost of Smith’s iPads and accessories is $60,515.70. Wheat’s cost is $60,307.24. Local funds will pay for JAMF Casper management, a program which monitors the iPads and their applications, making changes possible only by CISD administration. Local funds also cover AppleCare insurance for the 173 iPads and seven MacBook Pros. The iPads and MacBooks will remain on carts for use in class only.
In other business:
zx Trustees recognized Ted Reynolds with Westhill Construction, the middle school all-region band qualifiers and area and state winners of the FFA Leadership Development Competition.
zx Bright delivered an update on district enrollment, which showed the district down by 145 students, about 100 less than when school started. She said average daily attendance and truancy reports would be updated on a six-week basis.
zx Barry Hipp, director of district operations, shared a short term plan for placing CISD campuses back on a rotating repair basis, including paint touch ups, roof replacements, HVAC replacements and track upgrades.
zx Trustees approved the hiring of Marinda Bramlett, senior accountant for CISD; Bonnie Davis, school nurse; Amy Easter, ESL teacher at Santa Fe Elementary School; Donna Morgan, educational diagnostician; Roy Pena, sixth-grade science teacher at Smith; Leslie Spillman, academic dean for Smith; Jodi Thomas, health science technology teacher at Cleburne High School; and Autumn Mathis, ESL aide at Santa Fe.