Textbook purchase paves way for tech-based teaching

Language Arts books tied to Internet-based program

Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 4:03 p.m. CDT

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MINOOKA — With the Minooka Grade School Board of Education’s approval to purchase technology based books for 6th through 8th grade students for next year, District 201 is taking a big step toward technology based one-on-one teaching.

Assistant Superintendent Steph Palaniuk made the recommendation, on behalf of the district’s educational committee, to purchase Language Arts books for next year that are tied into a six-year Internet-based program.The program from Prentice Hall ties into Common Core standards, Palaniuk said.

Teachers will begin the process of moving to one-on-one teaching in Language Arts as students access lessons and tests online. The accompanying textbooks will assist in the process as teachers, students and parents get acquainted with the system.

“The focus is more on technology with assignments and assessments in an online atmosphere,” Palaniuk said.

The education committee, and then the Board of Education Wednesday night, April 24, considered several options before approving the purchase of 450 books per grade level at a cost of approximately $86 per book and six-year Internet service.

The goal is to become independent of textbooks down the road, but books are needed to supplement students who may not have Internet access in the home.

The Internet-based program will be new to teachers as well, but in-service days will help ease them into the new system.

“Some teachers will be more aggressive using the technology right off the bat,” said Palaniuk.

The district will eventually have enough computers for all students; in the meantime, the board will need to decide if students will be allowed to bring in their own devices and whether the district’s laptops and Chromebooks can be checked out by students.

The education committee plans to roll out a similar program the following year for math, Palaniuk said.

“I think this is going to be the way schools are going to go,” Distrist 201 board member Doug Martin said.

STAFFING PLAN

District 201’s staffing plan for Fiscal Year 2014 is almost complete, with a few more positions to be filled.

Board members approved the honorable dismissal of three educational support personnel as part of the district’s deficit-reduction plan. Three cashier positions at Minooka Elementary were eliminated.

“All three of them are nice people that did good work,” Gegenehimer said.

A special education one-to-one program assistant position was added, as mandated by the state, to work exclusively with a special needs child in the Early Childhood program.  

One part-time special education teacher position for Minooka Junior High was turned into a full-time position, and the district hired a full-time staff psychologist for the Primary Center.

The psychologist will serve as a social worker as well, Gegenheimer said.

By decentralizing from the Grundy County Special Education Co-op, the district has saved a significant amount of money.

“I conservatively estimated that we have saved the district $90,000,” Gegenheimer said.

“And that includes hiring this person.”

In another money saving matter, the board signed an intergovernmental agreement with Rockdale School District to share a technology assistant for all of next school year. Rockdale will reimburse District 201 for 40 percent of the cost of the employee.

Several other action items were approved April 24. The board awarded a bid to Proven Office Equipment for the purchase of five copier machines at a cost of $45,985, including maintenance.

The cost savings on maintenance alone will pay for the copiers over the next five years, Gegenheimer said.

The board awarded Feece Oil Company the district’s fuel contract for the next three years at a cost of .099 per gallon over the OPIS daily rack average. The cost includes leasing two 2,500 gallon diesel fuel tanks.

The Fran Cooney Company was awarded a bid in the amount of $15,453.53 for furniture at the new transportation facility.

The cost was well below the $25,000 budgeted, Board President Jim Satorius said.

District 201 and Minooka High School District 111 are splitting all related costs to the facility.

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