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iPad Air 2s, more iPads in works for SH schools

In yet another technological push ‘ contingent upon approval from the technology committee ‘ the South Harrison Community School Corp. Board of Trustees unanimously voted Sept. 1 to purchase 80 iPad Air 2 tablets and an additional 800 iPads to put into the hands of 1,515 students from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade, corporation-wide.
Unlike the 1:1 laptop program at Corydon Central and South Central high schools, in which all students are given use of a laptop they can take home, the computer tablets would remain at the schools. Also, the ratio of tablets to students would be a little better than 1:2.
‘If a class has 20 students, there will be 12 tablets,’ Dr. Mark Eastridge, South Harrison superintendent, said.
Answering a question from the board, if testing on an iPad needs to be done in a class, tablets would be pulled from another class so each student would have one for testing.
The total cost of the lease of the 880 tablets is $474,389.54, which includes a 1.5-percent interest rate. The technology committee meets later this month and will make the final decision as to whether or not to accept the plan. Currently, the corporation has 165 iPads in use.
Nissa Ellett, principal at Heth-Washington Elementary School, sang the praises of iPads in her classrooms and described how they are used for teaching, testing and studying at HWES. She said she has also used an iPad to calm a student by quickly redirecting and calming the child’s frustration enough that they were able to resume work in the classroom.
In another matter, the 2016-17 budget hearing took place.
The overall budget estimate for next year is $32,829,840, with a little over $20.7 million of that being for the General Fund.
The debt service budget estimate is $4,859,644; the school pension debt estimate is $954,979; school capital projects was estimated at $3,623,255; the transportation fund was estimated at $2,435,428; and the bus replacement estimate was $232,000.
The assessed valuation of the district is $766,642,477.
The budget adoption will take place Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 7:30 p.m. at the Edmund (Ed) F. Schneider Administrative Center in Corydon.
Earlier in the meeting, representatives from the YMCA of Harrison County were on hand for the board to consider allowing fourth-grade students at Heth-Washington Elementary to take part in the Supreme Court-approved Released Time Religious Education, which is a way for public school students to receive religious education during the school day ‘ off campus and only with parental permission for participating students ‘ with a maximum of 120 minutes of teaching per week. The non-denominational program is similar to Vacation Bible School in which only Bible stories are taught alongside teachings from the Old and New testaments of the Bible.
Schools operating the program are not allowed to use any type of school property for the program, from classroom space to a simple paper clip.
Students would be picked up during the day in the YMCA bus and transported to Bethel United Methodist Church.
Lanesville Elementary was the first Released Time program in the county, starting last October. A Released Time program in Dubois County started with 10 students and now has about 95 participating.
School board member Shelly Romero said that the school corporation proudly supports its gay and lesbian student population and asked if the YMCA would allow those students as well.
‘Absolutely,’ Jeannie Bedel of the YMCA said. ‘Any child is welcome in the program.’
The matter was taken under advisement.
A presentation was made about fundraising efforts for a playground at Corydon Intermediate School. The school once had a playground, but the equipment was moved to New Middletown Elementary when renovation work was taking place at CIS several years ago.
Fundraising started in April and there’s now $13,000 in an account. The equipment will cost about $55,000, which would also include a sidewalk to the playground.
‘We’d like for the students who are helping raise money to be able to use it before the end of the year,’ teacher Sarah Ground said.
A matching-grant request was made to the Harrison County Community Foundation but was turned down this grant cycle. Ground said she planned to write a similar request for the next cycle.
Later, during board member comments, Romero said she was embarrassed to learn CIS didn’t have playground equipment.
‘We just spent a half-million dollars to fund iPads but we can’t find the $40,000 balance to get these kids playground equipment,’ she said. ‘I know it’s apples and oranges but it’s important.’