Jun 3 2015

School Board Hears about Chromebooks, Connected and Service Learning

-May 27th School Board Meeting Report by Piedmont High School Student Tatum Burnett-

On May 27, 2015, I went to the Board of Education meeting from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The Board, which meets twice a month uses these meetings to discuss the School District’s budget, expenditures, events, visions, and goals. During the meeting on the 27th, three main topics were discussed.

First, Stephanie Griffon gave a presentation on the Connected Learning Initiative, which included all the technological advances the School District has made in the last 5 years. She described the progress the schools have made since 2010 when the teachers were all given Gmail accounts, to 2015 when 5th, 6th,9th and 11th graders were all given Chromebooks.

After her presentation, which also described how the technology has helped both teachers and students with efficiency and engagement, the Board discussed and questioned some aspects of the program. They wondered if the students would take the computers home over the summer, which the answer was, no. The question of when and how much would it cost to replace the Chromebooks, which last about two years, was brought up, however the Board agreed that with the low cost of the computers and the technological advances they brought, they were worth it.

I also questioned if Chromebooks were the most logical of devices to use, because they don’t last very long, however I agree that because of their price, and the amount of good they have done this year, they seem like a better option than buying expensive laptops for students.

Secondly, Beach Elementary School Principal Michael Corritone presented on behalf of the other two elementary school principals, the Tri-School Instructional Program Design, a program they had been working on all year. He described the purpose of the program was to prepare the students to be 21st century learners, and to make sure that the school was using it’s time most efficiently. The program includes committees of staff and parents, and conducts interviews and research to find out how they can make collaboration easier for the teachers and the students. According to Corritone, the program is only in its first stage, and will continue to gain speed in the years to come. The Board had little to say about the program except that they were pleased with the work, and look forward to the future of it.

Finally, the board discussed the Goals and Action Items that were mandated by the State of California in the LCAP (Local Control and Accountability Plan). The goals included making sure that teachers were qualified, students had access to a broad study and to common core classes, facilities were repaired or improved, students were provided with courses that provided emotional and social support, and finally to increase parent involvement and support. They also discussed their budget, which they all agreed that the community had a wrong idea about. They thought it was important that the community understood that even though the budget seems large now, there are many different areas that money goes into that people don’t realize.

“The issue with what is coming is that people think that there is a lot of money coming through.” said Board Member Amal Smith, “However, there is a lot of money to balance. The LCAP comes with a budget that we have to plan on.”

I additionally shared my admiration for allowing Piedmont Hight School to take a day for the Service Learning projects, sharing my experiences at St. Vincent DePaul, when the board was speaking about recent events. I shared how I thought that the service day was a huge success, and that I hope in the future, classes could participate in service with their chosen programs throughout the year rather than just one day towards the end. The Board agreed, and stated that they were too looking forward to the future of the Service Learning Program.

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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