S. Putnam school board approves device policies

Thursday, March 31, 2016

After a great deal of discussion, the South Putnam school board unanimously approved the policies and guidelines for the new Lenovo Chromebooks set to reach high school students this fall.

Among other issues, the policies dictate how students will use and care for the devices and determine fees for repairs.

The board stipulated that a $20 repair fee, which will provide funds for the school to fix the computers in-house, be mandatory for all students with a device. The current computer lab located next to the library will be re-purposed for the computers' storage and maintenance.

The repair fee will be collected at the same time as the rental fee, which the board unanimously approved at $98.25. The Free and Reduced Lunch and Textbook program will apply to the laptops as they do books, but Principal Mike Schmipf is trying to offset the cost by reducing other fees for those not covered by the program.

The school could rely on a third-party company to process the Chromebook rental and extra repair fees, but the board tabled the issue until the next meeting.

Parents and students can view the "Device Usage Guidelines and Procedures" and "Responsible Use" policies at sputnam.weebly.com, but will be required to view the documents before receiving the devices at the distribution date set for Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. for grades nine-10 and 7:45 for grades 11-12. Those who cannot make the date will be able to get their devices the following day or at the teacher day.

Students will be able to keep their devices their entire high school careers.

In other developments:

-- Director of Transportation Neil Rissler delivered a report on the current and upcoming changes in transportation for the board's consideration. In response to a bus accident that took place in January, Rissler said he and his team have added more safety measures, such as turning buses off when students are loading and unloading and parking the buses in a way that creates a barrier between walking students and other vehicles.

Other current changes include prohibiting parking in front of the high school fitness center during school hours and moving the Top 10 parking to a new location.

The biggest change, loading and unloading at Central Elementary, has yet to be implemented. Under the new plan, only buses will be able to access the elementary from U.S. 231 entrance. All parent and other traffic will be required to use the access road from U.S. 40. Buses will park in the circular drive right in front of the main entrance, while all other traffic will circle around the general parking lot.

These changes are expected to take place next week. Members of the board commended Rissler for his dedication and skill.

-- Five-Star Technology Director Steve Ricketts delivered a report on E-rate proposals for the board's consideration. Directory Ricketts explained that E-rate is a program within the Federal Communications Commission that allows schools to purchase and install technology at discounted prices.

The South Putnam School Corporation is seeking to install 38 Hewlett-Packard 560 wireless access points, their cabling and 2 HP 48 Port POE network switches in the Middle/High School. These purchases would provide wi-fi in all classrooms and common areas for this fall's 1:1 high school device rollout.

The project is expected to cost a total of $39,750, but with an E-rate discount of 50 percent it could drop to $19,875. The percentage of discounts are determined by the number of students on the free and reduced textbook rental program.

To get the ball rolling faster, Director Ricketts suggested the school pay the total cost up-front, out-of-pocket and then apply for a reimbursement once the project was finished. He assured the board the reimbursement was a guarantee they could expect this summer. The other option was to wait until the specific vendors installing the products got the reimbursement.

The board unanimously approved using the rainy day funds to pay the cost of the project up-front, and work is expected to begin April 1 and be finished before the end of May. The contractor has agreed to work after-hours so as not to disturb students.

The school currently pays $1,000 per year for E-rate services.

-- Kendal Stahl (kindergarten, Central Elementary); Hope Taylor (5th grade, Fillmore Elementary); Autumn Allee (8th grade, Middle School) and Katie Jo Beasley (senior, High School) were named the March Students of the Month.

In other business:

--Angie Nichols was not present at the meeting. Near the end of the two-hour meeting, Anthony Heavin had to leave for work.

-- Catherine Stockwell (Teacher, Central Elementary); Melissa Doty (Part-time Food Service, Central Elementary); Roshia Sullivan (Varsity Softball Coach, Middle/High School) and Amanda Graves (Varsity Softball Assistant Coach, Middle/High School) have resigned.

Bradley Hayes (Principal, Fillmore Elementary) plans to retire. In response to hearty thanks from the school board for his 20 years of service, Hayes said, "It's been a good run. Thank you for your support."

Addailine Enderby (Custodian, Middle/High School); Jamie Steffy (Varsity Softball Coach, Middle/High School) and Rae-Anne Kimmel (Varsity Softball Assistant Coach, Middle/High School) have been hired.

-- The board unanimously approved the FFA's overnight trip to the Leadership Center at Trafalgar in May and to the State Convention at Purdue in June. They likewise approved the Girls' Basketball overnight trip to D-one Camp at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Ill., in June and the Team Building Camp in Gatlinburg, Tenn., in June.

-- The board unanimously approved this year's budget consulting agreement with Educational Services Company, who will prepare the school corporation's 2017 budget over the summer.

-- The board unanimously approved the immediate replacement of the high school's leaking hot water unit. The purchase is to exceed no more than $15,000.

The next school board meeting will be April 19 at 7 p.m.

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