BURNSIDE - This year brought iPads to the Southeast Webster Grand elementary school.
"This year we're looking to expanded use of iPads and Chromebooks," said Superintendent Launi Dane. "We're looking at establishing some funds for technology. We want to upgrade the wireless in both the Dayton and Boxholm buildings."
The Burnside building has three rooms with laptops, she said - one for junior high and two for high school. Last year, the middle school in Boxholm got one cart of iPads that travels from class to class. This year, the elementary in Dayton got an iPad cart.
-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Third-graders Teighan Osborne, left, and Aaron Graves work on spelling words on one of the SWG district’s new iPads. The school added one cart of iPads for the elementary school classes this year.
-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Third-graders Rylie Ferrari, left, works on spelling words on one of the SWG district’s new iPads, while Kaidence Nowell does some paper based homework.
"The goal is to have one cart for each class," Dane said.
So far the kids and teachers have liked using them, said third-grade teacher Ashley Miller.
"We use them a lot for reviewing skills we've already done," Miller said. "For the visuals in math, so they can see fractions, or like when we're doing measurements, they can do the visual part of it. Just today we started doing some research for science with them.
"And once you get them started, they're like this," she added, indicating her silent classroom. "They're very well-behaved. It's a very good management tool, because they're all very engaged."
The iPads don't replace anything, she said, they just make it easier to review and enrich the lessons.
"They get excited and they get more review, and it doesn't feel like extra work," she said.
For the past two years, Dane and Manson Northwest Webster superintendent Mark Egli have served as superintendents at Prairie Valley. Next year, Dane said, Prairie Valley will have its own superintendent.
"Next year I'm coming back here full-time," Dane said. "It will be nice, that I don't have to travel as much. But it was enjoyable working with Prairie Valley also."
This year has seen some building improvements in Burnside, as well. The boiler system has been replaced with all electric heat, which will be more efficient.
"Now the individual rooms each have their own heating and cooling systems," Dane said. "The system will be easier to control. We have that new wing we built in 2001, and the old 1962 part wasn't quite matching up."
The new system cost $2.1 million and was paid for out of the capital projects funds.
The district also installed a new sprinkler system for the football field, and a new leech field for the Burnside building.
Also, the board voted in January to put a new floor in the Burnside gym. The curtains in the gym stage, bleachers and wall mats have been replaced in recent years.
"We're planning little upgrades to our locker rooms," Dane said. "And our lunch room, just to make it a little more stylish, use one kind of tile instead of several. Those are in the planning stages."
The district has seen a reshuffling of principals, as well.
A new high school principal was hired this year, Dane said, but he had to leave the job in October for health reasons.
Rich Wagner retired as middle school principal in 2009 and came back to work as high school principal in December 2012.
"I was doing all their state reports and all that, and since I was already on payroll, they asked if I'd be interested in filling out the rest of the year," Wagner said.
He hasn't found the school much different than when he left, but it's been a unique chance to see the kids again.
"I don't know of many other people who have the opportunity to have these kids in middle school, then be gone for three years and come back and have them in high school," he said. "Some of them have changed a lot, and some haven't changed much."
Last year's high school principal Dan Grandfield now works at the elementary school.