SH provides laptops to incoming frosh
South Harrison Community School Corp. introduced plans yesterday (Tuesday) for a 10-year, $2.34 million initiative to provide a laptop, or netbook, computers to all incoming freshmen next fall at South Central Junior-Senior and Corydon Central high schools.
The two schools will become just the second and third high schools in the state to have a one-to-one laptop program. Last month, Charlestown High School became the first to make such a move, providing a laptop to all of its students.
The project will be funded through one-time use riverboat dollars earmarked for education and are not part of the General Fund cutbacks proposed by Republican Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.
The announcement was made before school personnel and community leaders yesterday at the Edmund (Ed) F. Schneider Administrative Building in Corydon.
‘This is one of the most exciting and innovative initiatives South Harrison has ever taken,’ South Harrison school board president Roger Windell said.
‘With this technology, we’re going from anywhere here to anywhere in the world,’ Dr. Neyland Clark, SH superintendent, said. ‘We are moving to a globalized classroom.
‘This is more than just bells and whistles,’ he said. ‘This changes our landscape for teaching.’
There are three components to the project, which is titled ‘Project 2014: Investing in Our Community’s Future.’
First, new fiber-optic lines will be installed within the district to connect the Corydon campus to New Middletown, South Central and Heth-Washington school sites. Clark said the wireless capability of the corporation’s towers on each campus have reached their life expectancy and maximum load.
‘Fiber lines will give us years and space and room to connect between the schools,’ Assistant Superintendent Jeff Hauswald said. The cost, he added, would be about $100,000 over 10 years.
Second, there will be an expansion of wireless capability completely throughout both high schools in the district, and in some areas of the elementary and junior high schools, at a one-time cost of $85,000.
High school students will be able to connect to South Harrison’s server from anywhere within the school and some areas outside on school property. There will be Wi-Fi spots available at grade schools within the corporation. Unless a member of the general public has a student’s user name and password, they will not be able to access the Internet, however. And sorry, Facebook fans; even if you are able to get on the Internet, among other inappropriate Web sites, social networking sites are blocked through the school’s server.
Finally, laptops or netbooks will be provided for all incoming freshmen and secondary staff in the fall of 2010. The Class of 2014, and all other incoming freshmen for at least the next nine years after, will receive a laptop they’ll use throughout their high school careers. At the end of each year, the laptops will be turned in to the corporation for repairs and upgrades.
‘We’re looking at purchasing 300 laptops in the first year for freshmen and staff, and the following nine years we’ll purchase about 200 each year,’ Hauswald said.
‘This is an attempt on behalf of our school and community to raise the bar in education,’ Clark said.
The cost to the corporation for the laptops in the first year will be about $180,000, and $120,000 each year thereafter, Hauswald said, adding that costs could fluctuate.
Hauswald said other cost savings could help over the long haul, including parents purchasing laptops for their children and the corporation not having to purchase or update workstation computers in the high schools, or leasing space on the towers on each campus. Also, once all students at the high school have a laptop, there’s a possibility school books could become a thing of the past.
Thanks to the Harrison County Community Foundation, riverboat dollars already fund free textbooks at South Harrison.
Before diving into the project, a survey of parents of eighth-graders in the South Harrison system showed that 89 percent of respondents thought it either would be very beneficial or beneficial for their student to have a laptop throughout their high school career. Also, 50 percent of parents indicated they were interested and willing to purchase their child’s laptop.
Clark said that with the upgrades, the Class of 2014 and beyond will have the capability to sit in the classroom, or at a local restaurant or coffee shop that provides free Internet access, to not only know what students in other parts of the world are doing but to actually work with them.
‘How neat would it be for a student here to converse with a student a half a world away to talk about their viewpoints of our culture or about a certain point in history? The possibilities are endless,’ Clark said.
Jim Crisp, director of technology, said there are questions and issues that will need to be addressed, and questions will continue to come up even as the project gets underway in August: What if the laptop is damaged? If all of the laptops look the same, how can one student’s computer be differentiated from another student’s machine? Can a student bring in their own laptop if they already own one?
‘We’re learning as we go. This is new territory. There aren’t many school corporations that are doing what we are doing, so we don’t have much to go by. There are a lot of questions to start off with, and we’ll be playing a lot of the ‘What if … ‘ game, but, ultimately, this is going to catapult our students way out front,’ Crisp said.
‘This is a great investment in our students. Let’s face it, this is the world they are living in today. We can either prepare our students for the world or we can lag behind.’