District 103 buying interactive boards for some classes

Pilot program could be rolled out beginning next year to entire district

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By Bob Skolnik

Contributing Reporter

Lyons-Brookfield Elementary School District 103 plans to spend about $200,000 over the next three and a half years to outfit all its classrooms with interactive projectors that can turn a wall or a white board into an interactive board.

At its Dec. 18 meeting, the District 103 Board of Education voted 5 to 0 to authorize spending $18,000 this spring to purchase nine Epson projectors and the associated software for a pilot program of the system. Nine classrooms will be selected to pilot the Epson BrightLink 685 WI Base System.

Many of the projectors now in use in District 103 classrooms are malfunctioning and replacement parts cannot be purchased, because the manufacturer no longer makes the product, Director of Curriculum and Instruction Darek Naglak told the school board.

If the reviews from the pilot use of the Epson BrightLink system are positive, the district will spend about $60,000 over each of the next three years to purchase the system for each classroom in the district. 

This spring the teachers piloting the system will be observed by Naglak and principals. The teachers involved in the pilot program will also provide written feedback about the system.

If the board goes ahead after the pilot, grades one, four, and seven will get the projectors and software in the 2018-19 school year. In the 2019-20 grades two, five, and eight will get the system, and in the 2020-21 grades three and six, along with kindergarten classrooms, will be outfitted with the system.

"Yes it's an investment, but it's going back to the kids," said school board President Marge Hubacek before the vote. 

Naglak was enthusiastic about the technology and the possibilities in his presentation to the school board. The system is in use in Westchester School District 92½. 

Naglak and Edison School Principal Jan Bernard observed the system being used in Westchester and came away very impressed.

"We're expecting kids to interact with the technology," Bernard said.

The devices can project on to a screen or bare wall and students can touch the display, like a touch screen, to write or erase words and numbers, draw figures or move elements.

Each projector and the associated software costs about $2,000, which Naglak said is about half the price of a Smartboard.

Naglak said all math and language arts classes offer interactive learning activities that can benefit from the interactive boards.

The Epson system puts out an interactive display that features high color contrast and brightness and has dual pen-based interactivity that allows up to two users to write on any wall or existing whiteboard.

Assistant principal at Lincoln?

In other District 103 news, the school board is considering whether to hire an assistant principal at Lincoln School next year. 

Lincoln School, which is in Brookfield, is the largest elementary school in the district with an enrollment of about 460 students. Counting pre-school enrollment, about 560 kids attend Lincoln School.

"That's an awful lot of students for one person," said District 103 Superintendent Carol Baker, who brought the idea of creating an assistant principal position at Lincoln to the school board.

When former Lincoln School Principal Katie Schumann was first hired by District 103 12 years ago, she served as an assistant principal at both Lincoln and George Washington Middle School. 

When Schumann became the principal at Lincoln nine years ago, the half-time assistant principal position at Lincoln School was cut. Schumann resigned as principal at Lincoln School last year; Theresa Silva was hired to replace her. 

Hubacek said that she wants more information, including how many teachers the district's preschool director, Chris Newell, evaluates before deciding whether to create a new position. Newell is based at Lincoln School.

"I think it could happen, but we still have to get, for me, a lot more information before we add another administrator on," Hubacek said. "But I think it's doable."

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