Clearview Public Schools trustees were updated on the state of technology in the division during their regular board meeting on Thursday, Dec. 11.
Director of technology Steve Meyer presented his annual report to the board, outlining his department’s efforts over the past year, including system and equipment maintenance, staff training, and various projects.
Meyer also presented a functioning prototype of the division’s new website, featuring a modern structure and design.
“We have some adjustments we want to make,” he told the board, adding that his department is looking for feedback. He anticipated that the website would be up and running in January.
The department has engaged an outside company to design and host the website, and also to create a new logo for the division, the latter being dependent on board approval.
After the new division site is completed, Meyer said, the company will work with the individual schools to create new websites and logos for them.
“By the end of the year, I’m hoping that all those school (sites) will be up and running,” he told the board.
In response to a question from trustee John Schofer, associate superintendent Peter Neale said the approximate cost to operate and host the website will be around $9,000 annually.
One benefit highlighted by Meyer is the fact that the division would no longer be responsible for hosting the website itself, thus freeing up bandwidth for the schools’ use.
The outside company would also be responsible for maintaining security. Meyer estimated that the present website is subject to “thousands of attacks a day.”
Schools will be encouraged to maintain and update their own sites. Neale said the websites will feature a content management system that is user-friendly and requires “very little training.”
Meyer also answered questions arising from his report, including his summary on the evergreen fund used to cover the cost of computers for students.
In the past, the report noted, funds were used to purchase Windows and Mac systems, but today the needs of many students can be met with lower-cost devices, such as tablets. Purchasing such devices would allow the division to meet its needs at a lower cost.
Meyer observed that the division could purchase two or three such devices for the cost of a modern desktop computer.
However, he added, the division must also factor in the lifetime expectancy of such devices, explaining that some lower-cost machines — what he termed “throw-out computers” — aren’t designed to last as long as more expensive hardware.
“We’re not going to buy a $300 computer and hope that it lasts five years,” he said.
The full report presented by Meyer is available online at www.clearview.ab.ca.
Superintendent Peter Barron provided the board with an update on the meetings with the staff, parents and students of the Stettler schools. He and the central office team will meet again with these groups in the new year to summarize their learnings.
He also told council that a $70,000 grant application to Alberta Education has been accepted for the implementation of the Learning and Technology Policy Framework over the next two years.
Trustees discussed a resolution passed by the Alberta Association of Municipalities and Counties at its fall convention, supporting rural schools and school divisions.
Barron presented the latest draft of the Action Plan, resulting from the principles and priorities set out by the board during its discussions this fall.
A draft of the Budget Development Roadmap was presented to the board, with final approval expected in January.
Minor revisions to the 2015-2016 school year — regarding optional diploma exam dates in April 2016 — were approved.
Trustee Ken Checkel made a presentation to the board, outlining data he has compiled going back over ten years, reflecting the declining enrolment across the division and the resulting decline, to a far lesser extent, in teaching staff numbers.
The division has seen a decline of 427 students since 2000, with a corresponding decline of 6.87 positions, or one teacher position lost for each 62 students lost.
Given the division’s current student-to-teacher ratio of 16.1 students per teacher, this loss of staff is much lower than would be expected, Checkel explained. According to that ratio, the division would have anticipated a loss of 26 teaching staff.
Checkel said his presentation was intended to illustrate the division’s commitment to maintaining the highest staffing levels possible in the face of declining enrolment.
The board will gather again for a Committee of the Whole meeting on Jan. 13, 2015, at 4 p.m. The meeting will be open to the public.