The Othello School District's Technology Advisory Committee opened the June 10 school board meeting with a report on their findings and told the board significant changes would be necessary to keep up with the always-changing face of education in the 21st century. Matt Stevens, the executive director of district programs, said the point of the committee - which first reported to the board back in January - is to make sure Othello schools are prepared for these changes. "The goals were to carry out long-term planning and implementation of technology goals," Stevens said. Along with Glenn Whitcomb, director of technology, Stevens introduced some of the goals the district should try to meet by 2015, including synchronizing computers with the cloud, allowing staff to use their own devices, simplifying and ensuring students have access to PCs for online testing and training students and staff to understand how to utilize all these technologies. One of the big obstacles to reaching these goals is the aging infrastructure the district last upgraded in 2006. Stevens and Whitcomb said it would be crucial to begin this work soon. "We need to posture the district for growth," Whitcomb said. "The infrastructure we have in place is coming up to its end of life ... we have to look at replacing this equipment to stay current with the trends." Whitcomb said these infrastructure upgrades would be a long process that could cost up to $2.4 million over seven years if a "worst-case scenario" occurs and the district receives little assistance from the federal Universal Service Fund. Due to demographics within the district, Whitcomb warned there could be a long wait to find out what assistance, if any, they could receive for the upgrades. "Typically, we know between Sept. 30 and January of 2014 whether or not we're going to be funded," Whitcomb said. "Now, there are times where that has gone well beyond that." The next step for the committee is to begin including community members to help the district find solutions for the issues they've identified over the last six months.
Update on middle school's Spanish class McFarland Middle School assistant principal Josh Tovar followed with a report on the progress they've made in implementing the recently approved decision to provide a Spanish class. He told the board they've begun considering curriculums and textbooks, but have had struggles in finding qualified candidates to teach the class. "Currently, we've interviewed two potential candidates and we have one on deck," Tovar said to the board. "We're trying to get the most qualified individual for this spot because we think it's going to be vital to the development of the whole program." Tovar said it would be crucial to hire a teacher who can not only speak Spanish and know plenty about the cultures that speak the language. He also presented three different textbooks they're considering and said the next step is to create a committee to make the final choices on both the book and curriculum. "That's the next step for us - to establish a committee to preview and dive deeper into the curriculum," Tovar said. "We're trying to establish the teacher first and then once we establish the teacher, we would like him or her to preview this information and curriculum."
Summer School Begins Jennifer Garza, director of curriculum and assessment with the district, briefed the board on the summer school program before it began Wednesday, June 12. She said most classes will be taught in three computer labs at Wahitis Elementary School with 233 K-5 students enrolled and 37 currently on a waiting list. The program will also serve 148 migrant, 50 middle school and 130 high school students.