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Board considers adding student member

Smartboards may be phased out

By Clay Schuldt

Staff Writer

NEW ULM — The District 88 Board of Education is reviewing policy options for adding a student school board member.

During Thursday’s work session, Superintendent Jeff Bertrang presented the board with information from the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA) and a sample student board member policy from Delano.

About 95 public school boards in Minnesota have at least one student representative on the school board. Student board members do not receive compensation and have no voting authority since they were not elected by the community. The student board member would serve as the communication contact for high school students.

The board was supportive of this policy change. Bertrang said he would create a draft policy with Principal Mark Bergmann and bring it to the policy committee in spring. The idea is having the student board member policy in place by spring to start the selection process for next year.

The board heard two presentations for possible innovation grants. The first is creating a projection screen system in the Jefferson gym. The system could be used for phy ed and school assemblies. The technology can be upgraded and adapted.

The technology is interactive and demonstrates to students how to correctly perform physical movements, like shooting a basketball, throwing a ball or any exercise-related activity.

Bertrang said his only concern is the walls of the gym might not support the projection screen system.

“The last thing we want to do is put a lot of money and effort into it and we can’t do it because of the wall space,” Bertrang said.

A walkthrough of the wall space would be done before bringing this before the school board for approval.

The second presentation was for the replacement of Smartboards with new generation interactive whiteboards.

Washington Learning Center Principal Dawn Brown said the Smartboards are beginning to show age. The picture is getting worse and the projector lamps are expensive to replace.

The plan is to begin replacing the Smartboards with nine interactive whiteboards; one in each kindergarten room and one in the media center. This technology is similar to a wireless television screen without the projection, and multiple students can use it at once.

“It would be a more practical piece of equipment at our level,” Brown said.

As with the projection system in the gym, Bertrang wanted to make sure this system would work in the school before approving the installation. He agreed the Smartboards need to be replaced but he wanted to make sure the new equipment would work before buying $35,000 worth of it.

Board member Steve Gag was concerned this did not fall under innovation, but was an upgrade to current equipment.

Board member Melissa Sunderman agreed that if this was a needed classroom item, it should be budgeted from another source than the innovation grants.

Bertrang suggested buying a single interactive whiteboard to determine if the system will work with the school classrooms.

The board agreed Smart boards needed to be phased out. They are still reviewing what future technology to adapt.

The next regular school board meeting is 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, at the board room in the district office, 414 S. Payne St.

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