District 88 works to improve technology ratio in schools

NEW ULM — Independent School District 88 (ISD 88) is working to improve the technology ratio in schools by next year.

During Thursday’s School Board Study Session, Technology Director Michael Milbourn gave a tectology update to the board. Over the summer the schools added around 400 devices, replaced 100 obsolete devices and upgraded every machine in the district with a new operating system.

At Washington Learning Center (WLC) all the old iPad 2 devices were removed from service. Over the course of the year the plan is to remove all old iPads and create a 1-2 device-to-student ratio. The overall goal for is to have one device for every student in all the public school buildings by next year.

Milbourn said there is a lot of logistics to work out before the one-to-one device ratio is implemented, but the good news is other schools have already implemented this allowing New Ulm to learn best practices from other districts.

“We don’t just want to put out technology to have people do the exact same thing they are doing now,” Milbourn said. “We want it to actually transform things in the classroom and change how learning is done.”

High School Principal Mark Bergmann said there is always resistance to change, but none of the staff want to fall behind.

“They know change is coming and has to come,” Bergmann said.

School Board Chair Duane Winter said the district owed it to the students to prepare them for working with technology before they moved to college, where a one-to-one device ratio is typical.

Staff will continue to work on the logistics of the one-to-one initiative throughout the 2018-2019 school year to have in place by next school year.

In other news the board received information about Innovation Grants application process. The district innovation grants started in 2014 as a way of providing teachers with additional resources to try new programing and instructional strategies. Over $110,000 in grants have been awarded since 2014.

The grant process starts in fall. Applications must be submitted by November for consideration. This allows a funding plan to be in place for purchasing items in January.

The ISD 88 Foundation has its own innovation grant with an application deadline in mid-February with the winners announced at the Eagles Extravaganza.

The New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce will hold a special Hot Topic Lunch on Work Force Development at the ISD 88 District Office. The Hot Topic event will be held 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21. The event will feature presentations on employment issues from the Region 9 Workforce Development Committee and a panel of community employers.