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School board approves purchase of iPads

Friday, August 8, 2014

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Henry County School Board on Thursday approved the purchase of 587 iPads for the division’s 567 seventh-graders and 20 teachers — a move that will expand the school division’s initiative to provide one tablet computer for every student from grades three to eight.

The school division currently has an iPad for every student in grades 3-6 and carts of iPads in the middle schools that seventh- and eighth-graders share in the classrooms, according to school officials and school board documents.

“With the purchase (of 587 iPads) subsidized by the board of supervisors, we will purchase enough iPads for seventh-graders and distribute the iPads from the classroom carts to eighth-graders so that we will have one iPad for each child in grades 3-8,” Monica Adams Hatchett, HCPS’ coordinator for family and community engagement, wrote in an email.

The total cost of the purchase from Apple Computer is $275,303. The Henry County Board of Supervisors approved $225,000 and the school board approved the remaining $50,303, according to a school board document.

School Board Vice Chairman Betsy Mattox, who presided over Thursday’s meeting, and Horsepasture District school board member Terri Flanagan praised and expressed appreciation to the board of supervisors.

“This shows cooperation between government and the school board,” Mattox said.

The school board also approved the purchase of 1,730 iPad cases from CDWG for students in grades three, four and seven. The cost is $66,605.

This school year, the division is replacing iPads in grades three and four with the new iPad Air tablet, and this replacement requires a new case for the device.

In other business, Christy Landon, the school division’s director of human resources, presented proposed policy revisions to bring policies into compliance with new or existing laws and regulations or for editorial reasons. She said dozens of revisions are proposed. Some of them reflect amendments of the Virginia code or enactment of new code, dealing with such things as:

• the establishment of a threat assessment team;

• prohibition of the use of electronic, or e-cigarettes, on school buses, school premises or at school-sponsored activities;

• designation of a non-rest room location in each school where any mother employed by HCPS or any student enrolled in HCPS “may take breaks of reasonable length during the school day to express milk to feed her child until the child reaches age 1”;

• “the provision of a free, appropriate public education and development and maintenance of an Individual Education Program (IEP) for students with disabilities, as well as for the provision of procedural safeguards to the parent(s) of a child with a disability”;

• prohibition of charging tuition for online courses to children with disabilities who are enrolled in the division’s full-time virtual school program;

• provision for the development of a selection process for instructional materials and allows for the inspection of instructional materials by parents;

• provision for a process for evaluating, reviewing and selecting textbooks that have not been approved by the Board of Education and also provides a process for parents and citizens to review and present comments concerning such textbooks;

• with regard to suspensions and expulsions, allowing the school board to implement guidelines for determining what constitutes special circumstances, as well as to authorize the superintendent or superintendent’s designee to conduct a preliminary review of cases to determine whether a disciplinary action other than expulsion is appropriate.

The proposed policies will be presented to the board for approval at its meeting Sept. 4.

In other business, the school board:

• Awarded an office supplies request for proposal to Bassett Office Supply at an estimated cost of $300,000 for 2014-15.

• Renewed the PowerSchool hosting from NCS Pearson at a cost of $21,700. PowerSchool is a student database management system. The hosting cost covers hosting and warehousing information and all updates supplied to the program.

• Approved the renewal of the video on demand delivery system from Safari Montage at a cost of $26,635. The videos are meta-tagged allowing teachers to find precisely the video clip they need to use based on correlation of Virginia Standards of Learning and needs of the division’s curriculum.

• Appointed members to the Sick Leave Bank Advisory Board: central office — Wendy Durham; elementary teacher — Shonna Pilson; middle school teacher — James Grandinetti; elementary principal — Pat Walmsley; secondary principal — Ben Gravely; superintendent’s designee — Christy Landon; HCEA representative — Susan Dawson.

• Declared that the required crisis plan review is complete. Virginia law requires local school boards to annually review the written school crisis, emergency management and medical emergency response plans of each school in the division. HCPS Superintendent Jared Cotton said no changes have been made to the plan for this school year.

• Awarded the contract for fire and life safety system services to Simplex Grinnell of Salem at an estimated cost of $25,000. The contract will include inspection, testing and maintenance of fire alarms, sprinklers, range hoods, fire suppression systems and fire extinguishers, in accordance with the requirements of the National Fire Protection Association.

• Heard a reminder of dates. Aug. 11 is the first day of school for students. On Aug. 23 (rain date Sept. 6), a Family Summit will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at Jack Dalton Park. On Labor Day, Sept. 1, schools and the school board office will be closed. The school board’s next regular monthly meeting will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 4 in Summerlin Meeting Room, Henry County Administration Building.

During a time for public comment, the Rev. Tyler Millner commended Cotton for his responsiveness and efficiency and the school division for its plans to address the achievement gap. However, Millner criticized the school division because none of its top three administrators is African-American.

He also said he was disappointed that, in his view, there was no community input on the recent selection of the new principal of Magna Vista High School, JaMese Black, though he thinks she was the right choice.

He also said he was disappointed that, in his view, there was no community input on the recent selection of an assistant superintendent. He was referring to Sandy Strayer, who was appointed assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, succeeding DeWitt House, who retired.

Later in the meeting, Collinsville District school board member Merris Stambaugh responded to Millner’s contention that there was no community input. Stambaugh said during the meeting and in an interview that the public always has an opportunity for input, either publicly or by contacting board members privately. He pointed out that board meetings are public and the school board is publicly elected. He said he wants to hear the feelings of his constituents, but unfortunately not many people come to board meetings either in the mornings or at nights.

The school board does not make decisions behind closed doors, he added.

 

 
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