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School Districts Make Classroom Technology Choices

Local school districts have one more day to tell Idaho’s Department of Education how they’ll spend their portion of $13 million for technology in the classroom this year.

The money is part of the Students Come First plan, but completely separate from the one-to-one laptop requirement, which calls for each student to have a computing device.

How much money a district gets depends on its size and attendance. Blackfoot, for example, received a check for $60,000 last fall.

To get the second half, each district has to submit a plan to the state about how it will use it to boost student achievement.

Blackfoot District 55’s Assistant Superintendent Chad Struhs was stress free on Tuesday afternoon, knowing its application for classroom technology money was safe and sound at the Department of Education.

“What we’re looking at is purchasing iPads,” Struhs said.

Struhs said that’s partially how School District 55 plans to use its piece of the $13 million pie. Teachers will be able to apply for a grant to get one of about 100 Apple tablets.

“And explain how they’ll use it educationally to be able to better the education of the students in the classrooms,” said Struhs.

The rest of the roughly $120,000 will go toward iPod Touches for students.

Struhs said many of the kids are already familiar with the technology that they’ll be able to use in the 21st Century classroom.

“Being able to have clickers in the classroom, where a teacher can give a question and assess right at that moment — the iPod Touch actually has an app for clickers,” said Struhs.

Bonneville County School District 93 officials said it will use the funds to put computing devices in the hands of younger students.

That’s something Struhs said will happen down the road in Blackfoot. For now, the focus is on preparing high schoolers for what’s to come.

“We’ll shift the equipment down and around so we’ll be able to utilize it throughout whole district,” said Struhs.

Struhs said the Blackfoot school district plans to purchase the new gadgets at the end of this month.

The Pocatello-Chubbuck district said it will use the money for infrastructure needs, such as wireless Internet, projector systems and interactive whiteboards.

A Department of Education representative said the $13 million for technology includes $4 million specifically for professional development.

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