Crestview looks at tech purchases

LISBON – Even though there are many questions regarding school funding in the five-year forecast, Crestview Local’s Board of Education this week was still able to look at about $100,000 in projects to improve the schools in the next year.

A year after buying new computers for all the students at the high school, the district plans to beef up technology at the middle school and elementary school. Although it will not be possible financially to buy for every student, technology carts will be purchased with 30 netbooks or iPads on them.

The plan will be to purchase two netbook carts for the middle school – one

utilizing a grant and the other in the place of purchasing new science textbooks. Superintendent John Dilling said the science curriculum is currently being changed, so even though the district had planned for the purchase of new textbooks, the district should wait. The netbooks are similar to what the high school students are using.

At the elementary school the plan is to purchase one cart of iPads using the money which would have been spent on science textbooks at the elementary. Additionally, Daryl Miller, technologies coordinator, said there is an older cart no longer being used at the high school. Those computers can be fitted for use by elementary students.

The technology improvements will also mean the addition of more wireless hubs at the middle school and elementary school. The entire project is estimated to cost between $17,000 and $20,000.

The largest project financially the district would like to complete is repairing and sealing the parking lots, including the access road between the elementary school and the two other buildings. Dilling said this may be the biggest priority because there are concerns some parts of the parking lots could be lost if repairs wait much longer. The estimated cost of the project is $50,000.

Board members discussed possible ways to slow down drivers on the access road between the schools. Dilling pointed out speed bumps may just cause students and community members to swerve onto the grass to get around them, unless a fence was constructed. A fence is not in the budget.

The district is also seeking the purchase of a new truck to replace one currently between 12 and 13 years old. The school plans to go through the state purchasing consortium to get the best price.

Although having a deputy at the school has made a big difference in the security, Dilling said there is still the need for some more security cameras. Some places are not be covered which could cause potential issues.

Not on the list for replacement this year are any school buses. However, Dilling said it is important for the district to consider buying some in the near future. Shortly, the district’s oldest bus will be 28 years old.

Looking at a 50 percent increase in the cost of diesel fuel in the past year, board members discussed the possibility for replacing buses with ones which operate on natural gas. Dilling said he has looked into the possibility, but there are several issues. First there is the significant cost of transforming the engines in current buses to run on natural gas. Then even if the district has a way to fill the tanks, there is no guarantee the fuel would be available when buses go on longer field trips.

Another project of interest to board members which cannot be added to the list is improving the speaker system at the football field. The cost is estimated at $5,000. Board members discussed whether such a project could be tackled by community fund-raisers.

The meeting was also a chance for the board to look at what trends are happening at the school district and some of the achievements of the past year. For instance, the performing arts center was completed, the high school tested the fifth best in the three-county area, the elementary school was rated excellent with distinction and the high school students were all given netbook computers.

This year 440 students came to Crestview by open enrollment, compared to the 67 students who left the district. Dilling pointed out that while the population in the district becomes older and fewer families are moving there, open enrollment has helped the district to balance that issue.

He also complemented the board members with being proactive in looking for programs to draw those students to the district for different reasons such as improvements to athletic facilities; the one to one computer initiative; expanded AP classes; the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program (STEM) and the performing arts center.