School board hears update on middle school laptop program

Laptops would be part of instruction starting in 6th grade next fall

District staff provided an update on the expansion of technology at the middle schools during Tuesday night's Pleasanton school board meeting.

In order to provide equity and greater access to the curriculum through the use of 21st century instructional technology supporting the implementation of the District Strategic Plan, the middle schools are proposing to expand the traditional Laptop Program to all students, regardless of socioeconomic status, beginning with sixth grade during the 2015-16 school year.

With the current Laptop Program, only students in this voluntary program have access to a laptop -- with each middle school having approximately 30% of its students in the program.

According to staff reports, each middle school site will be providing a minimum of 12 Chromebooks for each sixth grade block and science class – in addition to its computer laps, library computers, and rolling carts of Chromebooks.

Staff also updated trustees on how they've been reaching out to the community about the laptop program and different opportunities teachers have had or will have for professional development.

During public comments, teachers and parents spoke in favor for the laptop expansion.

"It would be a shame for all our students If they didn't have this opportunity," said Susan Huggins, a fifth grade teacher and parent of a laptop program student.

According to staff, the next steps include aligning plans with "Year Two" goals in the District Technology Plan, as well as provide more professional development and community outreach.

In other business:

*Staff gave a report on the $2.3 million School Climate Transformation Grant from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and Healthy Students.

Senior director of Student Service Kevin Johnson said the funds would be dispersed over the course of five years and include the implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) at all school sites.

Staff said the goals of the grant include: providing increased access to mental health services, creating school cultures with equal access and treatment to all students, providing common social-emotional development for all students, reduce aggressive behavior and student victimization, and decrease drug use and abuse.

Tuesday's report included the timeline for the grant, which shows the elementary school sites have been in its planning year.

Johnson noted that during this school year, the school district had 281 suspensions from a previous 406. In addition, the school district has not had any expulsion cases.

The following school year, 2015-16, elementary schools will focus on Tier 1 of support, which includes: teaching schoolwide positive behavior expectations and procedures, positive reinforcement for all students, consistent consequences for problem behaviors, effective procedures and supervision in non-classroom areas, and effective instruction and classroom management.

In relation to Tier 1, staff provided trustees examples of how school sites can focus on accomplishing that specific tier's goals, such as: establishing three to five positively stated school rules, directly teaching the rules across multiple environments, developing a reward and acknowledgement system, and clearly defining consequences to reduce ambiguity.

The second and third tiers can be found online in the staff report.

By 2017-18, the elementary schools should have fully implemented all tiers and the secondary schools should be fully implemented by 2018-19.

*Trustees recognized students from the middle and high schools who were recipients of the 11th annual African American Achievement and Excellence Awards. The following students were recognized Tuesday night: Jamaun Charles, Olivia Cotton, Kalyn Epps, Madelyne Guyton, Isabel Ivey, Mei White, Meena Alexander, Ravi Alexander, Chima Ezeh, Maya Tompkins, Mikaela Tompkins, Sade Aleese Wiggins, Lavendar Hardin, Chineyere Okoro and Martha Warner.

*The school board recognized the Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation for their continued support for the Pleasanton Unified School District.

Following the district's recognition, PPIE presented PUSD with a check for $515,000 which will fund four additional instructional coaches and the district technology plan.

*Tony Dennis, Amador Valley High's lead teacher of Project Lead the Way (PLTW), was recognized Tuesday as PUSD's 2015-16 Teacher of the Year.

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6 people like this
Posted by Dear school board
a resident of Foothill High School
on May 13, 2015 at 10:31 am

As a parent of 2 successful Hart laptop students, I can attest to the benefits of the program. But it's not perfect. Before the district goes site wide, the teachers need to be computer literate. Most are far from it but don't know it. They need to know how to use software effectively. The formatting of many of the "forms" my children had to fill in were horrendous. Yes, it's little things like the proper use of tabs vs. spaces (for your aging teachers, they need to know computers are not typewriters). Teach kids how to write good search scripts. Don't obsess about Wikipedia; it's here to stay. Just teach the them how it differs from other resources. And say it with me: "spell and grammar check are not evil, they are tools." There is work to be done before you take this school wide. Good luck... the kids will be better for it.

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