DeKALB – DeKalb School District 428 will spend nearly $1.5 million to upgrade technology across the district and to launch a pilot program that would give some students computers.
District 428 board members unanimously approved Tuesday spending $938,051 to upgrade the district’s technology infrastructure to prepare for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers assessment. They also approved $548,035 to be spent on a pilot one-to-one technology program, an initiative that would give every student a computer they would also take home at night.
The upgrades will be funded with the $21 million construction grant the district received.
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Student Services Doug Moeller said the upgrades will better align the classroom with the digital world students experience outside of school.
“They are digital natives and the only place they don’t have access to technology is in the classroom,” Moeller said.
The pilot one-to-one technology program would give every eighth grade and Lincoln Elementary School student a mobile technology device. District officials will buy 550 Chromebooks for eight grade students, but have yet to decide what the 350 devices for elementary students will be.
As part of the projects, the district will upgrade its online network, bandwidth, and power supply to ensure masses of students can be online simultaneously without the network crashing, which will be essential when the school administers the PARCC assessment next year on computers.
Moeller added the effects of the network and bandwidth changes will reach into daily instruction.
“It’s also essential to planning and reliability,” Moeller said. “If a teacher plans for something on computers, they need to rely on the network not going down.”
The success of the one-to-one technology program could effect whether the district proceeds with the remainder of the technology upgrades. District officials approved spending $462,000 so the district has one computer lab for every 200 students, a computer to student ratio PARCC official recommend.
However, if the one-to-one technology program shows measurable success, the district would not need to add computer labs because it would instead implement the program districtwide, Moeller said.
Board member Cohen Barnes echoed Moeller’s sentiment that the one-to-one technology program will mesh students’ lives with school.
“Kids consume information differently,” Barnes said. “They are doing all these things online and then they come to school and we expect them to sit in a classroom, open a textbook and look at a teacher.”
He added the district is working with area libraries, community centers and churches to provide places for students without internet access to go after school because curriculum will be built around the technology.
As part of the upgrades, the district will add four full-time positions: two instructional coaches and two IT staff members.