District 118 wants to upgrade old computers

News-DemocratJanuary 21, 2014 

Belleville School District 118 officials discussed plans for more technology upgrades during Tuesday night's school board meeting.

Superintendent Matt Klosterman said the next logical step is to upgrade the computers in labs throughout the district with the state's new entirely online assessment set to start in the spring of next school year.

"The computers in many of our labs are five or six years old," he said.

The district would also like to purchase more Chromebooks, a type of laptop, for student use. Currently, each school building has at least 30 Chromebooks available to students.

A survey of 125 staff members, Klosterman said, revealed the district needs more. "Reception of the Chromebooks has been overwhelming positive," he said. "We clearly heard we need more of them, especially at the upper grade levels."

The Chromebooks are used by all grade levels -- pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade. "It's making a major difference in how teachers are approaching instruction in our classrooms," Klosterman said.

Funding for the district's technology upgrades is still being determined.

Assistant Superintendent Ryan Boike told school board members the state currently owes the distinct $1.1 million. "We continue to watch revenue and expenditures very closely," he said.

The district's overall financial score with the State of Illinois improved to 3.8 on a 4.0 scale according to preliminary information released by the state, Boike said.

Klosterman said district officials plan to monitor Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's initiative to increase the state's minimum wage to $10 per hour. He said the increase could impact pay for some of the district's part-time employees.

In honor of the city's 200th anniversary, a film crew visited Douglas Elementary School in Belleville and videotaped students talking about the anniversary, bicentennial and what it means to be 200 years old. Klosterman said the format was similar to that of the popular AT&T "It's Not Complicated" TV commercials where actor Beck Bennett sits down with children around a small table.

"Our kids did awesome, and it was hilarious," Klosterman said.

The video incorporating Douglas students will be shown during the city's 200th anniversary gala on March 8.

Assistant Superintendent Lynn Clapp said the district is still taking reservations for its 18th annual trivia night at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bel-Air Bowling Lanes, 200 South Belt West. The cost is $10 per person with maximum of eight per table. For reservations or more information, call 233-2830. The trivia night benefits the District 118 Foundation.

In other news, the school board approved the following:

* Applying for "Act of God" exemptions for two of the snow days this month with the St. Clair County Regional Office of Education. If approved, the district would not have make up the days and will not lose state aid for them.

* Hiring Bonnie Prescott as a para professional for the special education program at Jefferson Elementary School in Belleville

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com.

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