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‘Digital learning’ gets top grade in District 230

 
    The technology rollout in District 230 has received honor-roll worthy grades for the first semester. 
    Chief Technology Officer John Connolly gave a presentation updating the District 230 school board on what is called the Digital Learning Program during the Jan. 26 meeting, and said 99 percent of teachers give it least an A-.     As part of the Digital Learning Program, freshmen and sophomores at all three district school, received Chromebook laptop computers this year, with the program being expanded to juniors this fall, and seniors in 2018.     He said that when teachers were asked for first-semester feedback on the program, and its usefulness for learning and instruction1, the average grade awarded was A. Connolly said 69 percent of teachers actually gave the program an A, with 15 percent giving it an A+, and 15 percent gave it A-.
    Preparation for the program began in 2015, and at the beginning of the current school year in, freshmen and sophomores received Chromebooks, At the end of this school year, freshmen will turn in their computers, which will be given to incoming freshmen in September, while current sophomores will then take the computers they have now into junior year. Incoming sophomores will then receive new Chromebooks. By the 2018-19 school year, all students in the district will be provided with Chromebooks. In the meantime, those without Chromebooks may use their personal laptops or tablets.
Connolly said a grant the district received from Sprint will allow students without Internet access at home to be provided with hotspots, which allow them to access the Internet from anywhere. Other technology-related plans include replacing LCD projectors, classroom speakers and having students as technology interns.
Connolly said the district was expecting 7 percent of the 3,700 laptops handed out this year to sustain some damage the first semester, but just 3 percent did. This included 73 with broken screens, 25 with defects covered under the warranty, and 19 with damaged keyboards or touchpads.
    He said 10 to 15 school districts have contacted 230 officials seeking advice on how to roll out a similar program. Staff from Senn High School, on the North Side of Chicago, even visited to see the program first-hand.
    “It’s good to be on the cutting edge,” said Superintendent James Gay.
    In addition to providing Chromebooks, technology in classrooms and offices is being upgraded districtwide. Among the most-used programs are Skyward, which enables students and parents to check grades and communicate with teachers, and GoGuardian, which allows teachers to monitor students using Chromebooks during class.
    Also at the meeting, the board passed a resolution honoring longtime board secretary Lynn Sutter on her retirement. President Rick Nogal said that in nine years as secretary, she only missed one school board meeting. 
    “The board secretary helps the board in so many ways,” said board member Patrick O’Sullivan, praising Sutton for “revolutionizing” the way members get information. “We used to have sheafs of paper in front of us,” he said, rather than just the laptop computers they use now. 
    Besides being board secretary, Sutter also was the superintendent’s secretary. Gay said they have worked together for nearly 17 years, dating back to his days as principal of Andrew High School.

    “We will miss you, but it is great to retire while you’re healthy,” he said.

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