SOUTH KINGSTOWN - In an open work session on Tuesday, the South Kingstown School Committee met with administrators, educators and members of the public to discuss the possible implementation of a pilot program that will provide 125 laptops or tablets to ninth graders whose teachers volunteer for the initiative.
The one year, $98,000 pilot program will provide the devices, a four year warranty and protection plan, a protective skin, and a new “tech coach” position at the school. If the pilot succeeds, the school will expand the program grade level by grade level.
South Kingstown Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow cites several reasons for the program, which will not only put devices into students’ hands, but will completely change the role that teachers have in the classroom.
“Whether we like it or not, we are in a declining enrollment, declining funding landscape,” said Stringfellow, referencing virtual charter schools such as the Village Green School in Rhode Island. “That’s what our major competition seems to be in Rhode Island.”
Stringfellow and other administrators have looked into similar technology initiatives, including a program that requires students to bring their own devices to the school.
“Equity, security, and single platform were topics that gave us pause,” she said, claiming that providing single-platform devices to students eliminates the concern of equality and the use of a single operating system.
Doug Snow, technology director for the district, answered the question of security, mentioning that the school has already begun to make use of $661,000 from a bond from the Rhode Island Department of Education, which exists with the goal of putting a wireless access point in every classroom. The South Kingstown High School will be the first to receive these benefits, with hopes to have the access points by Sept. 1.