TRUMANN, AR (KAIT) – Next fall, students in the Trumann School District will be using new technology every day in class. According to Superintendent Myra Graham, who is in her first full year at Trumann, the district will lease-purchase approximately 1,700 MacBook Pro and Air computers and iPads for teachers and students. Graham said iPads will go to children in grades K-2. Students in grades 3-12 will be given laptop computers. Later grades will be able to take their devices home.
"I came in July and the administration before me had worked really hard to develop an infrastructure and that's a big important piece," said Graham. "They had gone wireless. They had already implemented plans for increased bandwidth, and all of the little pieces that would be needed to go to a one-to-one initiative."
Graham said the district is working on a contract with Apple to purchase the computers over a three year period. At the end of the third year, the district will be able to sell the old product and upgrade.
"We'll be doing a lease program where it'll be a half million each year for three years," said Graham. "Then you fold that amount of money into the future year and a newer device."
Graham said the school will spend federal and state money on student instruction. She said money collected locally does not go towards the computer purchase.
"They (federal and state funds) are required to be spent on student instruction. Now next year, Trumann will be getting more funds than they have in other years due to an increase in our free and reduced lunch program," said Graham. "Textbooks are an expensive item and there's a lot of knowledge packed into them. Then their longevity is sometimes short, the wear and wear in lockers and going home."
Jerry Greenwell, a fifth year teacher at Trumann High School, said his students are already excited for the new technology.
"We've always said we wanted it to be about the kids, and now we're putting actions into those words. Our administration is stepping up and putting the money so that it goes to the kids," said Greenwell. "It's a technology world. That gives them a leg up in the job market if they know the skills. With all the software that's out there and they'll have to use that software."
Greenwell said children in his class currently use the paper and pencil method, with occasional visits to the computer lab. He said next year, he'll be able to expand his teaching to the internet and other areas used for research. He'll also have to get ready for the change.
"We are going to give every teacher in the district a MacBook Pro in late April to start getting familiar with it and designing lessons around apps and programs," said Graham.
Graham said computers will have tracking devices inside to locate the device if it goes missing. She also said the district will be able to shut off the computer remotely if it gets sold or stolen.
"The Cross County (School) District is a 2A school and smaller than Trumann. Doing this thing on a 4A school level with the number of students that we have is quite an endeavor, but we're up for the challenge and we're going to make it happen for kids," said Graham. "We found many things we wanted to replicate, and they also told us a few things that we don't want to do. That'll be beneficial to us and we are doing our homework in that manner."
Graham said her aim is to get students ready to take the Common Core benchmark test in 2014. Arkansas is one of 43 states to join the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The CCSSI is an attempt to "level the playing field" among standards for students nationwide.
Graham said she's not worried about how students will treat their devices; citing repair work can be done internally.
"We have two fabulous tech guys and they have gone to train to be Apple certified. When a screen breaks, all we have to do is get the part in here and they can replace it," said Graham. "These kids are going to have a great deal of pride in being able to use this technology and to accomplish their learning. We believe they're going to take care of it, and that is what we find from the schools that have already implemented this one-to-one initiative."