Tuesday, September 16, 2008

B-W schools having technical difficulties

If parents have been sending e-mails to Viking Middle School and not getting a response, there's a reason. Similarly, for anyone trying to telephone the high school since last Friday and not getting through, there's a reason for that too.

"Our server crashed the first day of in-service for teachers," Viking Principal Hank Dupuis informed school board members at Monday night's meeting, "and we've been struggling with it ever since.

"We're probably getting e-mails from parents that aren't being answered," he continued. Some of the e-mail accounts are now working Dupuis explained, but not all. Additionally, some folders, when retrieved, have lost bits of information, he said.

"Bryan Jones (Network Administrator and Technician) has been working hard on the problem and we hope to have it resolved soon," said Dupuis.

At the High School, the telephone hard drive crashed last Friday, according to Principal Eric Russell.

"BTI (Baldwin Telecom, Inc.) has been working with us," said Russell, "and we expect the new system to be working tomorrow."

During the open forum portion of the meeting, district resident and employee Kim Paul addressed the board on behalf of the Four-year-old Kindergarten Advisory Board. She explained the advisory board is studying the possibility of offering such a program at Baldwin-Woodville. The board would like to communicate with the community and will report to the school board on a regular basis. The Vision Statement of the advisory board is to provide all four-year-olds access to developmentally appropriate learning experiences through partnerships with communities and families.

Teachers Jackie Bensen and Jen Schommer gave a Smart Board presentation during the meeting. Bensen, a third grade teacher at Greenfield, explained that last school year, the district's Technology Committee made the decision to purchase Smart Boards for each building:
five at Greenfield, one at each grade level; four at Viking, one at each grade level and one portable; and three mounted and one portable at the High School.

"At Greenfield, teachers wrote proposals for the Smart Boards and we decided from there which classrooms would get them," said Principal Gary Hoffmann.

Smart Boards are connected to the teacher's computer and project from there. Students and teachers can then write or touch and move data around on the Smart Board screen. Notes can be taken and saved and it's easy to incorporate the Internet into lessons, according to Bensen. Lesson templates are provided through the software that comes with the boards.

Bensen said some teachers received training in operating the Smart Boards and then they trained other teachers in the district.

Using this new teaching tool benefits a variety of learning styles, according to Bensen. Visual learners as well as kinesthetic learners, who learn through physically interacting and touching the board benefit from the Smart Board. "It gets students involved in the lesson," she said.

High School Spanish teacher Jen Schommer invited board members to interact with the Smart Board. Board members then took turns writing on the board. Schommer and Bensen each demonstrated various lessons they have used with the Smart Board.

"The ways that we deliver information to students is constantly changing," commented Superintendent Rusty Helland.

During committee reports, board member Mike Bondarenko reported that since the No Child Left Behind legislation, national graduation rates are up two percent for a 74 percent graduation rate. He said two-thirds of schools have achieved the standards.

Transportation Director Wade Labecki informed the board that next week is Bus Safety Week and students will be practicing safety procedures.

Supt. Helland noted that Labecki (also B-W Athletic Director) is on the ballot for the WIAA Advisory Board.