KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Kansas City School District Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green pushed back on Thursday at accusations the district had ignored teachers’ concerns about a plan to distribute tablet computers to students this fall.
Green said individual schools will be given wide leeway to decide when they are ready to fully adopt the district’s technology plans.
“The individual schools will kind of determine their own placement on the continuum as we move through this,” Dr. Green said, “So teachers will be involved, students will be involved, parents will be involved. In terms of whether that school community says we're ready. We're ready to step into this and we want to be first, we want to be second or we want to be late on because it’s going to take us awhile to be properly prepared.”
On Wednesday night, the district held a workshop with teachers, laying out its plan to distribute tablet computers to all the roughly 17,000 students in district schools by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
The tone of the meeting turned confrontational at times, with a board member telling teachers that if they were not on board with the plan to “go somewhere else.”
The president of the local chapter of the teachers’ union lashed out at what she felt was the rushed nature of the plan.
"If you think throwing a computer at [students] in August and letting them take it home is going to automatically cure all the evils of this district, then you are clueless," AFT Chapter President Andrea Flinders told the board.
Today, Green said the rollout of devices would be staggered as school infrastructure was upgraded, teachers were trained and students were prepared. He said he hoped to have devices in the hands of some district students when school opens August 12th, but conceded the rollout would likely take well into the spring.
“That window of time that starts in August and looks at March is really a staggered time frame of rollout and it all depends on the energy and willingness and readiness to step into this,” Green said.
Meanwhile, a committee of educators and district officials met Thursday to choose between four possible models for the take-home tablets, but could not decide on which unit to purchase, according to a person involved in the discussion.
All four models under discussion by district officials come in around the same price point and all would be compatible with educational software produced by Pearson, an online learning company which has bid for the city contract.
Both the device and the software provider will be voted on by the full school board later this month.
The district says switching to a one-to-one model of giving each student a device of their own would cost approximately $400 per pupil, per year.
But until all the contracts are finalized sometime this summer or fall, that number will remain in flux.
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