The Bright Local Board of Education has listened to the results of a survey it took last year and now it is preparing to respond to its constituents’ concerns.
The top concerns from the survey were the cafeteria, busing, curriculum, technology and safety. First-year superintendent Ted Downing said Monday the district has received some one-time funds that it plans to use to address all those concerns within the next year.
Downing said school district representatives plan to hold public meetings next week to explain the changes. On Monday, Nov. 30, it will hold meetings at the Marshall United Methodist Church from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and the Belfast United Methodist Church from 7-8 p.m. Two other meetings will be held Wednesday, Dec. 2 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Bright Elementary and from 7 to 8 p.m. at Whiteoak High School.
“We’re going to go out and if people want to come out and ask questions, they don’t necessarily have to go to the high school,” Downing said. “We want to make this as convenient for them as possible.”
While many of the planned initiates will not be implemented until next year, Downing said he believes concerns with the cafeteria have already been corrected. In addition, he said the board of education has decided to let all veterans and service members into athletic contests free of charge as long as they present proper identification.
“The board kind of wants to pay them tribute,” Downing said. “It’s not a lot, but we want to show we do appreciate what they’ve done.”
The district plans to implement one-to-one iPad initiatives for the 2016-17 school year in grades 7-12, discharge high school students from school a half hour earlier than this year, has established advisory committees to try to get more information to parents, plans to install nearly 100 security cameras, and will add a period at the end of the day in addition to a few more elective classes.
It also plans to start a soccer program either next year or by the 2017-18 school year at the latest, Downing said.
There will be several options for the iPad plan.
“Students today need personal technology that provides them with an opportunity to learn anytime, anywhere,” Downing said. “Our goal is to have a personal iPad in every student’s hands to use at home and at school to provide access to new information, to promote critical thinking and creativity, to customize learning, and to facilitate 21st century skills that our students can apply in today’s world.”
All families who will have Bright Local students in grades 7-12 during the 2016-17 school year will need to complete an I PAD Program Order Form and return it to the school by Tuesday, Dec. 15 so the school can anticipate the number of iPads it needs to purchase.
The options include:
• The student owns an iPad privately, brings it to school and uses it according to the school district’s acceptable use policy. Acceptable iPads include the iPad Air or iPad Air 2.
• The student will purchase an iPad Air (32G) from the school at a reduced cost of $424 so they can download apps and software of their choice and use it freely at home. Students will also be able to keep it through the summer and maintain ownership after graduation. This must be paid in full by Aug. 12, 2016. A case would cost $50 extra.
• Students can purchase an iPad Ai from the school on a payment plan at a reduced cost of $424 for the iPad and $50 for the cover at a total cost of $474. The first payment of $140 is due by Aug. 14, 2016. Payments of $83.50 will be due based on a payment schedule. The student can download apps and software of their choice and use it freely at home. Students will also be able to keep it through the summer and maintain ownership after graduation.
• Students can use a school-owned iPad knowing that he/she may only download stipulated apps and software. The iPad must stay at school over the summer and must be returned at the end of their senior year. An annual $140 maintenance fee must be paid by Aug. 12, 2016 for the 2016-17 school year.
• Students will not participate in the 24/7 take-home part of the program. They can still use an iPad every day at school after their acceptable use policy is signed. That means a parent and student still must attend one of the scheduled meetings in August in order for the student to have access to an iPad at school.
Downing said the district is working every day to lower the iPad costs.
In another move, Downing said high school/middle school students will be dismissed at 2 p.m. next year and elementary students at 3:30 p.m.
Part of that plan is an extra period at the end of the day. Downing said that at 1:25 p.m. high school/middle school students will be able to start on homework and if they don’t have Internet access at home they can stay at school until 2:45 p.m. Then they could catch the vocational school bus at the high school, take it to the elementary school, then have it take them home from there.
“We will be providing time, supervision, and a way home for kids that don’t have any Internet access at home,” Downing said.
The superintendent said Smart Boards will be installed in high school classrooms for next year, plus the number of security cameras at both school campuses will be increased from four or five to 45. Both facilities will also change to a keyless entry system.
“We’re just trying to address a lot of concerns that people have had,” Downing said. “This comes from one-time money that we didn’t have in the past and we’re trying to do some things to get the best bang for our buck. Any project like this is going to have some bumps, but we’ll get through them.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.