Mokane school board weighs new technology position

South Callaway School administrators will further look into hiring a brand new position after approval from the board of education to do so.

The district’s board of education gave clearance for a Director of Technology Instruction during its Wednesday board meeting with a 6-1 vote. Greg Kimminau cast the no vote.

Mary Van Orden, South Callaway’s director of curriculum and instruction, presented the idea to the board, stating that a Director of Technology Instruction would aid teachers in enhancing the use of iPads and any future technology in the classroom.

She added this person would work with administration, principals and teachers to continue South Callaway’s “technology integration” into the classrooms so students can improve their critical thinking skills among other Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) goals. The position and advancement of technology in the classroom, Van Orden said, would allow South Callaway to be innovative in its teaching.

“We need to bring our teachers, our whole process into a deeper model,” Van Orden said.

Superintendent Kevin Hillman said one or two assembly or professional development days cannot accomplish what someone in the position could.

Board members questioned the necessity for the position, though.

Kimminau said the board was told South Callaway would be “ahead of the game” when the iPad pilot program was established. His fear, he added, was that the iPads would become a toy and not a learning tool and it’s the administrators’ responsibilities that doesn’t happen. With the responsibility comes accountability, Kimminau said.

“Nine months ago we were assured we had a plan in place,” he said.

Ryan Arrowhead, board member, echoed Kimminau’s statement about keeping administrators accountable for the iPad use, but he said he wasn’t surprised about the proposal.

“We knew it was a good move but not sure what’s necessary to facilitate it,” Arrowhead said.

The board’s president, Kit Glover, voiced concern about the number of textbooks students are utilizing in addition to the iPad. She said students should not have to carry heavy textbooks from school to home and back while they have iPads. She added the continued use of many textbooks could show the iPads are not being utilized to their full potentials.

“If we don’t move from that, then it’s all for not,” Glover said. “If we don’t get rid of the books at some point, then I think we shot ourself in the foot with this.”

Van Orden said the issue was not textbook related and the position will be geared to “redesigning lessons” to incorporate students who she described as digital natives.

The board discussed its drug testing process on students participating in athletics and other Missouri State High School Activities Association sanctioned groups.

Tony Brandt, South Callaway activities director, said there are three bulk tests conducted each year in order to test all the athletes. Then, he said, one-third of the total is randomly selected to be tested again at another time.

South Callaway has used a standard four-panel drug test and a K2 test, which is substance similar to marijuana that is undetectable in a four-panel test. The four-panel test looks for marijuana, opiates, amphetamines and synthetic drug results through urine or saliva.

Brandt and South Callaway High School Principal Heather Helsel gave the board information on a 12-panel test that would include what the four-panel test covers as well as prescription drugs, oxycodone and other pain pills.

Helsel said the use of pills has been brought to her attention by community members.

The board pondered the idea of testing all students at the beginning of the school. Current testing costs the district about $5,000 and adding all high schoolers — increasing the amount of tests from 240 to 460 — while going to a 12-panel test would increase the cost by about $10,000.

Some thought it would possibly improve student safety, especially when students are driving.

“If we spent $5,000 and it cost another $10,000 and saves a kid’s life, then I think it’s something we need to look into,” Brent Woods, board member, said.

The board made no formal decision on drug testing as it was only a topic for discussion.

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