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School board OKs K-2 iPad purchase

Devices to be paid for with federal CARES Act funds

Starting this fall, the Fort Dodge Community School District will have a 1-to-1 student-to-device ratio for all students in transitional kindergarten through 12th grade.

The FDCSD Board of Education approved a proposal to expand the 1-to-1 device ratio to the younger grades this fall. The district already had a 1-to-1 ratio for grades 7-12, who are provided Chromebook laptops.

After the proposal approved by the school board on Monday night, students in TK-2 will receive iPads to use this school year.

Jeremy Pearson, the district’s supervisor of information technology, said that he was “hesitant” to provide Chromebook laptops to the younger elementary students, adding that it was “apparent” that students of those grades would benefit from a tablet device, rather than a laptop configuration.

Each iPad will cost $294, plus a $69 “always on” protective case that will be screwed onto the tablets.

The tablets will help facilitate possible at-home learning as the district tries to navigate learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The total first-year cost for the district to purchase the tablets for 900 K-2 students is $326,700. That money will come from federal funds provided by the CARES Act, which was passed by Congress to respond to COVID-19.

“This is not a commitment on the district’s behalf for an eternity to always be 1-to-1 TK-12,” Ulrich said. “This is a short-term CARES dollars purchase. In three years, the board will have to have more discussions on if this is something the board would like to continue within the district.”

Students in third through fifth grade will receive the laptop Chromebook devices.

Pearson said he expects the iPads to be able to be used by the district for five or more years.

At the beginning of the meeting on Monday night, board member Lisa Shimkat was elected board vice president.

The school board also approved a bid for the purchase of a towable boom lift, which will be used by the Fort Dodge Senior High Marching Band, as well as the district’s maintenance department.

“In years past, the band has been using a scissor lift, and we’ve had to take out pieces of plywood and level it out that way, so it hasn’t been the most safest thing,” said Ryan Utley, district director of buildings and grounds.

Utley added that the maintenance department typically rents a towable boom lift around five or six times a year to do maintenance across the district. By purchasing a towable boom lift, the district will be able to use it for maintenance needs, as well as the band will have a safer lift to use.

Mid Country Machinery submitted a bid for $33,250, which includes a 2020 Haulotte 4527a tow-behind boom lift, which has a 45-foot lift height, hydraulic outriggers and an automatic leveling system and self-leveling platform.

“It’ll be 100% more safe than what we’ve been using in years past,” Utley said.

Utley recommended the board accept Mid Country Machinery’s bid because it is a local dealer and will have more efficient customer service and warranty support.

The money for the boom lift will come from the district’s physical plant and equipment levy fund.

Reorder Implement, of Dubuque, also submitted a bid for $32,350.

Utley also presented to the board a proposal from Johnson Controls to upgrade the climate control system at Fort Dodge Senior High. The school board approved the $18,795 proposal.

Utley said the school has 21 controllers that control the airflow to different areas at the high school that are about 15 years old and need to be replaced.

The board approved the proposal and it will be funded from the PPEL fund.

The school board approved a $60,735 spending proposal to continue a partnership with Teaching Lab to “expand and deepen impact on instructional practice” across the district by providing professional learning to grades K-8 English and language arts teachers, lab leaders and school leaders with the new ELA curriculum, said Kirsten Doebel and Steph Anderson, directors of secondary and elementary education for the district.

The funds will come from categorical dollars, Doebel said.

The next FDCSD Board of Education meeting will be at 6 p.m. on July 27.

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