Oskaloosa School Board Meets For Special Session

Members of the Oskaloosa School board met in a special session to take care of some urgent business and held discussions on technology updates, budget tax levies and accept resignations.

Technology director Shari Barnhart made a presentation to the board regarding the need to upgrade various technology units at the high school and elementary. Barnhart told board members the district has approximately 2,025 units between students and staff. She said that many of those units are beginning to reach their life expectancy of 5-8 years. The high school vertical team and student representatives have spent the year looking at options.

The options have come down to a discussion of whether to use MacBooks or Chromebooks. The pros and cons evaluated include cost and length of utilization. The team considered the usability and it was determined that the Chromebook had less ability to use some apps that are currently used by the students. Members of the staff in attendance said that some of the apps require a deeper thinking realm than what a Chromebook can provide.

At the high school the purchase of MacBooks with an 11.6 inch screen would be $659,250 or with a 13-inch screen $726,750. The Macs would have a life expectancy of 7-8 years and are upgradable. The cost for Chromebooks would be $243,750. Barnhart said a Citrix server could allow further use of some apps at a cost of $100,000.

Options at the elementary could include the re-management of existing units could be approximately $35,200, but would have a very short life span. A Chromebook solution would cost $200,600. Barnhart said there may be a chance to sell the old MacBooks and recover $82,000 so a net of $118,000 could pay for the upgrades.

Board members asked questions and Barnhart and the vertical team will put a proposal together and present at the April meeting. Carl Drost asked them to consider looking at a multi-year replacement. Superintendent Russ Reiter said he and the team would put those numbers together.

Extensive discussion occurred about the tax levies. The discussion led to the number of students that are open enrolled out of the Oskaloosa districts and the costs that are connected with that enrollment. Drost was concerned about the open enrollment costs, home school costs, special education deficit and other costs amounting to $194,000. The board will continue the discussion with the pending budget approval in April.

Board members approved the resignations of Julie Miller as food service director and Mauree (Marie) Hagee (Hay-Gee) as high school science teacher.

The board approved Kim Gile and five student council students to attend the national student council meting in June. The students and chaperones will pay their own transportation, hotel and conference fees. The event will be held in Portland, Oregon June 24-26. Cost to attend will be $1,100 per person.

Story provided by RD Keep


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