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Madison revises technology plan to include fewer devices for youngest students [The Wisconsin State Journal :: ]
[January 24, 2014]

Madison revises technology plan to include fewer devices for youngest students [The Wisconsin State Journal :: ]

(Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 24--Every kindergarten and first-grade student will not receive a tablet computer under the latest revisions to Madison School District superintendent Jennifer Cheatham's proposed technology plan.

Instead, each kindergarten and first-grade class will have 10 tablet computers -- about one for every two students.

An earlier version of the plan proposed giving every Madison student in those grades and beyond their own tablet or notebook computer by the 2018-19 school year. The district would spend about $1 million less on devices with the proposed reduction. No changes were made to plans for students and grades second through twelfth.

In all, the revised plan projects the five-year cost at about $27.7 million -- a lower price tag than the original $31 million proposal. Going forward, the district projects an annual technology budget of $6.3 million instead of the original $7 million budget initially proposed.

The school board will vote on the plan Monday.

Earlier this month, board member T.J. Mertz questioned whether every young elementary student needed their own device. Board member Dean Loumos also posed questions to Cheatham about the amount of time students will spent looking at screens.

The new plan also points out that a team of district staff will "pay particular attention to the amount of time children spend using technology, especially for younger students.

Cheatham said Friday that the revisions were made after culling through feedback the district received about the plan.

"(We) took a very critical review of the first draft of the technology plan and we decided based on that feedback and our assessments of it, we felt confident an adjustment could be made at the kindergarten and first grade level to allow for access to technology as needed," she said.

Peggy Coyne, president of the Madison Teachers Inc. and special education teacher at Black Hawk Middle School, said she expects teachers to find the reductions in the youngest grades a reasoned approach.

Coyne said the proposal to revamp technology throughout the district has spurred a lot of excitement among teachers. She said issues that may arise in the future are managing a classroom full of students who have access to a device that could be distracting and accommodating students who do not have Internet access at home.

"There is a lot of excitement, but of course there will be some hard work, I'm not totally naive," she said. "There's limitless possibility. I totally agree with people and Jen Cheatham when they say we've got to get on board, but it's a huge undertaking." ___ (c)2014 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.) Visit The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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