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Digital transformation surges ahead in Hampton School District

| Tuesday, May 2, 2017, 4:09 p.m.

The new digital transformation proposed for Hampton School District has parents concerned.

The so-called “one-to-one program” would provide students with their own technology device instead of sharing laptops from mobile carts as is currently done. Beginning in second grade, students will have iPads and third and upper grades will be given district-owned personal laptops.

“This seems like a done deal. This changes the dynamic on how the district teaches children,” said Erin Rowland, a Central Elementary parent. “Technology is just a tool. It's only good as the teacher you put its hand in.”

Hampton Superintendent Michael Loughead emphasized that professional development is key in making technology learning successful and funding for training will be included in the 2017-18 proposed budget.

“We're working with experts and doing this the right way,” said Loughead, adding the district is using Project RED program for implementing the technology.

The rollout is planned for the first six to nine weeks of class next year and there also will be parent education, said Loughead. The initiative is intended to prepare students for a technology-driven world.

Loughead said he'll host superintendent coffee sessions this month to provide more detail on the digital transformation. Dates will be advertised on the school website and through parent teacher organizations.

He also will make a presentation at the upcoming Remake Learning Days on May 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the middle school.

Loughead said the cost of the project isn't exhorbitant – the ‘17-18 technology budget is a little less than last year. He said the district would've purchased numerous new laptops next year to replace old ones.

The one-to-one proposal has gotten good feedback from staff.

“Teachers are saying it's having a very positive impact on student engagement,” said Loughead.

Many parents were concerned at the school board's April 24 meeting about too much “screen time” for students spending their day on line, then coming home doing homework.

Adrien Domske has children in first grade, kindergarten and preschool, and said she prefers limiting the time spent on technology.

“I really don't want these coming home. I really don't,” said Domske. “I can't imagine having three more devices to fight with at home.”

Board member Lawrence Vasko said parents can opt out from having devices taken home. Loughead said the district is working on an alternative form of homework for those students.

The devices will also be sent home with students for the summer for further enrichment, however, board member Gail Litwiler said she has “some serious concerns” and questions the necessity.

Parents would also pay an estimated $25 fee to cover costs of breakage or loss. Director of Technology Ed McKaveney previously stated there could be an “angel fund” for those who couldn't afford the costs.

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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