Steamboat Springs School Board starts tech tour

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— Shutterfly. Blabberize. Glogster. iMovie.

The Steamboat Springs School Board was excited Monday night when a group of six elementary school teachers briefed them on these new tech and Web tools being deployed in local classrooms.

Students become PowerPoint literate in the first grade, the teachers said, and they are able to storyboard documentaries in iMovie in fourth grade.

And as they followed along on iPads and a SmartBoard inside the Strawberry Park Elementary School's media center, School Board members said they want to spend more time witnessing the new tools students and teachers are using in the classroom.

Last year, they just talked about them.

“It's really great to see these things come to life,” Board President Brian Kelly said after Strawberry Park art teacher Erin Kreis showed how her students take pictures of their artwork on an iPad and digitally alter them.

The pictures then can be emailed to parents.

Monday night's meeting at Strawberry Park was the first of a series of meetings the board is planning to have at all of Steamboat's campuses in the coming weeks to witness how technology is being used in classrooms. The board also is meeting with teachers and administrators to discuss Unified Improvement Plans, reports that outline how school staff plans to help students meet certain curriculum guidelines.

Monday's technology briefing led the School Board into a brief discussion about whether teachers and the community would want them to continue approaching the Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board for grants that help keep class sizes small, or if more grants in the future should fund more new technology and hardware in classrooms.

“It's an ongoing discussion we're all going to be involved in,” board member Denise Connelly said. “Would you rather have a few more kids in the class but be able to have the technology, or is that a tradeoff we don't want to make.”

The elementary school teachers responded they would like to see more of their students have access to iPads in coming school years.

But a couple of them said they don't want to see new hardware come at the expense of small class sizes.

The School Board will continue its technology tour next month at Steamboat Springs Middle School, followed by a visit to Steamboat Springs High School in December.

Other meeting highlights

Enrollment

Finance Director Dale Mellor told the School Board that the district is projecting a funded pupil count of 2,260 students, up 42 students from last school year. Mellor added that the total is 22 more students than the district budgeted for.

The district currently has an overall enrollment of 2,321 students, up from 2,284 students last school year. School districts do not receive full funding for their kindergarten and part-time students.

This year's increase in full-time students is projected to equate to about $140,000 in additional revenue.

All three Routt County school districts are projecting increased enrollment this school year.

Challenge Fund

The School Board signed off on nearly $40,000 worth of grants coming from the inaugural Steamboat Springs Challenge Fund. The grants soon will equip students at Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools with new iPads, robotic Lego kits and a traveling planetarium.

The money also will introduce some new curriculum into classrooms.

The new fundraising drive netted nearly $52,000 for the elementary schools this year.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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