MIFFLINTOWN - The Juniata County School Board of Directors went back to school Thursday evening as Juniata High School biology students crowded the room armed with classroom supplies and textbooks - all contained in one notebook-sized device.
Dan Smith, biology teacher at Juniata, said he has been using iPads in his classroom for a year and urged the board to consider adding more technology to the district. He brought one iPad per board member and a number of students to the meeting to give directors a real-life example of the lessons he teaches in his classroom.
"It's quite an amazing experience," he said, explaining that students have access to everything from textbooks to classic novels and educational videos.
Sentinel photo by JULIANNE?CAHILL
Juniata County School Board members, from left, Ray Page, Randy Dressler, Christine Shadel and Glenda Leister navigate educational applications on district-owned iPads under the direction of Juniata High School students from Dan Smith’s biology classes.
Smith encouraged the board to consider a one-to-one program for the district, which would provide every high school student and teacher with their own iPad for educational purposes. He said the current cost to purchase used devices for high schoolers in the district is $134,000. From the iPad, students have access to free and low-cost educational applications, including traditional textbooks and classic literature in digital format. Smith estimated that purchasing iPads would save $31,500 to $54,000 per year over traditional textbooks.
Over the course of the year, Smith said use of iPads in the classroom has increased student interest in lesson material. He said one-to-one programs have been in practice in other districts for years, where administration have seen marked progress in parental engagement to learning, increased content retention and rising quality of student work and progress.
Smith said the devices have very practical benefits such as long-lasting batteries and instant startup time. He said iPads are completely resistant to known viruses and malware, giving them an advantage over PC computers used in the district.
"There are millions of used (iPads) sitting out there waiting to be purchased," he urged, adding that used devices are lower cost but still have years of use left.
Also during the meeting, Juniata High School FFA Members gave a presentation to celebrate FFA week. The display included a slideshow of pictures from events throughout the year.
After the students' presentations, Superintendent Richard Musselman presented Keystone Awards to schools throughout the district that met adequate yearly progress goals set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, as determined by PSSA test scores. This year, Keystone Awards were presented to Fayette Elementary School, Monroe Elementary School, Mountain View Elementary School, Thompsontown-Delaware Elementary School, Tuscarora Valley Elementary School and Walker Elementary School.
In other business, the board:
Approved an agreement with Industrial Appraisal Co. for an appraisal of the real estate and content property of the Mifflin-Juniata Career and Technology Center, at a cost of $3,950 for machinery and equipment and $5,895 for real estate. The appraisal will be completed no later than March 31.
Approved the purchase of computer hardware from Higher Information Group to update the district's CAD lab, at a cost of $25,856.50, and stationary labs, at a cost of $77,300.
Approved financial reports for January 2013, and approved a list of bills for payment.
Approved the administration's pursuit to develop and participate in in a Multi-County Health Insurance Consortium. The purpose of the consortium will be: to maintain a means for participating school districts to obtain health insurance coverage economically to fulfill their contractual and legal obligations to their employees; to reduce price fluctuations and add predictability to each participating district's annual cost of obtaining health insurance coverage; to assist participating districts in accessing information as to the availability, quality and costs of coverage; and to establish and track the amount of each district's financial interest.
Approved a list of taxpayers exonerated from paying 2011-2012 per capita taxes.
Approved transfer of bus route 31 from Richard Hart to Melvin Hart.
Approved the employment of Lee C. Oldt as director of special education.
Approved the employment of Marcus M. Brothers as a JHS special education teacher.
Approved Judith T. Brown and Tobi A. Dowling as Level III paraprofessionals at East Juniata High School.
Approved Gabriella Amato as translator/interpreter.
Approved donation of five pieces of weight training equipment for the EJHS weight room.
Established the position of district-wide athletic director and authorized administration to advertise for candidates.
Approved the application to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association for the Tuscarora Junior High School field hockey program to merge with the EJHS junior high field hockey program.