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Ludlow Schools Look to Update Technology

Ludlow Independent Schools will be upgrading the technology in its classrooms.
Superintendent Michael Borchers gave a presentation on Thursday night of a Pro Wise touch screen, which is becoming known as the new smart board, a device which has replaced the blackboard. 
Borchers explained to the Board of Education that in 2015 the district paid virtually nothing for technology, and had very little in the way of computers. In 2016 there were 30 laptops in the elementary school and 30 in the high school. This year there are 60 laptops in each school. 
"I am proposing that we buy 180 HP stream computers for the elementary for next year, and lease 550 ChromeBooks for the high school," he said. "We did a network evaluation so we can support this."
The next question was how to afford the bump in technology.
Borchers showed a bar graph showing how much was spent in the past few years on technology. The board has already committed $40,000 to put the current technology in the schools, and the new additions will cost about $10,000 more from the general budget. The 180 streams in the elementary school will cost $32,000. Borchers said he will take $24,000 from Fund II money, and $8,000 from the elementary budget. This will put laptops in the hands of every student in grades 3 through 6 every day.
The High School will receive 550 ChromeBooks, about 100 more than there are students so that there are spares. The ChromeBooks will be leased for three years, at the end of which the district can purchase each device for $1. The cost of leasing the chromebooks will be $30,000.  
It was determined that buying the ChromeBooks at this time would be cost-prohibitive, and the insurance alone on them would cost the district $30,000, the same price as the lease. Borchers plans to take $20,000 from KETS money for the current school year and next school year, and $5,000 from the high school budget, and $5,000 from the general fund, already budgeted for general technology.
Different from other school districts that are allowing students to take their computers home, Borchers believes that the computers need to stay at the school to avoid the wear and tear. He says every teacher will have the computers in the classroom and each student will be assigned a computer when they are in that classroom. All files are saved to a one drive in the cloud so each student's work is saved and can be accessed by the student at any time.
Borchers and his team have also looked into a new math series called Carnegie Learning Mathia X. These will work well with the new computers. Borchers said his administrators agreed that more of their programs worked with a Windows-based program, so ChromeBooks would work best. He also said both principals are helping all their teachers go through training to be able to hit the ground running next year.  
They aren't worried about the students learning how to use them.
"The vast majority of kids use (computers of some sort) on a day to day basis," said Jason Steffen, Principal of Mary A. Goetz elementary school.
As far as the Pro Wise Touch Screens, Borchers said that they are something to phase in to classrooms as the district acquires the money. But he wants them for his students.
"Our students deserve the best technology we can give them," he said.  The board members agreed.
The other big news in the district is that the preschool has been awarded five star status, making it one of the first public preschools in the Northern Kentucky area to achieve that high status. Beth Ketzer, Preschool Director, came to the meeting to explain the award. She said she has been awarded a $25,000 grant for the planning process for an all day preschool for four-year olds. She is also getting ready to apply for a $150,000 grant for next year that will allow her to implement the plan.
This year's graduation speaker will be Eric Richardson, who graduated from Ludlow High, and now practices law in Northern Kentucky.
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
Photo: Superintendent Michael Borchers explains technology upgrades (RCN)
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