January 14, 2016

Marathon school district launches technology agenda




Staff Reporter

MARATHON — The school district hopes to have a complete technological reboot, a $490,872 plan to improve and incorporate technology into programs over three years.
The district is applying for funding through the Smart Schools Bonds Act, a $1 million grant provided by the state Education Department. On Wednesday, the district held a half-hour long presentation outlining key components of the application.
“This plan is not to just have the tools accessible to the students, we want them to learn how to use them ... for educational purposes,” said Superintendent of Schools Rebecca Stone.
The grant would update aging computer equipment, and install a rotating cycle of newer technology.
The Marathon School District has 196 desktop computers and 753 laptop computers totaling 983 computers for 750 students and 85 staff. According to the technology plan, nearly half the current computers will need to be replaced in two years.
The school wants to buy 14 Smartboards for the classrooms that do not have them; 66 classrooms do.
Also, 90 percent of the security cameras at the district are out of warranty with an expected four- to five-year life span. The cost of updating the system in the next three years is estimated at $1,872.
Teachers will be the first to access any new software, program or equipment and receive proper training before student use, school officials said.
The district may purchase more electronic text books, with high schools classes already using e-books for technology, social studies and science. The seventh grade uses e-books for English Language Arts and math modules.
Board member Rebecca Edsall said some students and English teachers prefer to use paper textbooks.
“This is not an all-or-nothing,” Stone said. Paper options will be available for students or teachers, as needed.
The district will also look into an anti-bullying home use keylogger system, which tracks anti-bullying via the Internet on tablets students will be able to take home. This system, called Aristotle, would cost $5,728. The program works to pick up on certain keystrokes, and can track students activity online after-hours. Students and parents will need to sign up before bringing equipment home.
The full technology plan is located on the districts website, a requirement of the grant to be posted for 30 days.
Stone says she expects the board will make a decision at its next meeting, Jan. 27.

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