Local school district expanding student access to technology

Published: Tuesday, January 30, 2018 @ 9:50 AM


            Northmont launches program to get tech devices into the hands of more students. FILE
Northmont launches program to get tech devices into the hands of more students. FILE

This March Northmont schools will increase the number of students assigned iPads.

The district will go almost fully one-to-one technology, meaning one technology device for each student, after previously only having it for high school students.

High school students are currently all assigned an iPad. The expansion will now include students in second grade through eighth grade.

“We’re trying to provide authentic learning experiences for our students beyond the classroom walls,” said Susanne Lintz, assistant superintendent.

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To pay for the program, Northmont will use $470,889 per year for four years of their “permanent improvement fund,” totaling almost $1.9 million.

The district will be renting the devices and at the end of the four years, will either keep the iPads or sell them back to Apple. The district is also looking at reselling some devices they already have and reducing textbook and copier costs.

“This is not going to impact the general fund, that one thing the superintendent was very adamant about,” Lintz said.

Each student, from second grade through high school seniors, will be assigned a fifth generation iPad. Teachers whose students have iPads will get an iPad, too.

“We wanted teachers to get the same experience as their students and to be able to control the classroom with Apple Classroom,” Lintz said. “iPads were the best way to go, because of the support and professional development we would get from Apple.”

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The Northmont Board of Education approved the expansion on Jan. 22.

“The district is also looking at re-assigning existing iPads to the Kleptz Early Learning Center so that even our youngest learners in grades K-1 will have access to these devices in each classroom,” said Jenny Wood, Northmont Information Officer, in a statement.

The district has been working on developing its one-to-one program since 2010, when they formed the Strategic Planning committee. This committee, made up of board of education members, parents, teachers and administrators, aimed for the district to become one student to one technology device.

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To continue this goal, a Technology Review Team was created in spring 2017 to explore devices. Lintz, who is on the team, said they visited school districts with one-to-one programs and did a lot of research on the benefits and which devices to purchase.

“As we continue to expand One to One across the district, we believe that these devices are going to enhance the high quality education that has always been a part of the Northmont experience,” Wood said in the statement.

Lintz said that overall there has been a very positive response to the announcement of the expansion.

“There’s some good buzz out there, people seem generally very excited about it,” Lintz said.

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Former Warren County school board member now district’s assistant superintendent

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

Robyn Donisi
Robyn Donisi

A Franklin school board member who stepped down in January was hired as the district’s new assistant superintendent.

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Robyn Donisi, a veteran educator and currently the assistant superintendent of Clinton-Massie Local Schools, was selected from a field of 50 applicants for the position, according to Superintendent Michael Sander.

Donisi will be replacing Douglas Cozad, who will become the superintendent of Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools on July 1.

Sander said he was “excited” to have Donisi working on his leadership team. He said Donisi will begin her new duties in Franklin on Aug. 1.

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The Franklin school board awarded Donisi a two-year contract with an annual salary of $100,000.

Donisi resigned her school board seat on Jan. 22 citing increased duties at work. She was elected in 2015 to her first term on the school board.

A lifelong resident of Franklin and a 1978 graduate of Franklin High School, Donisi earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Miami University and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Dayton.

Donisi worked in Franklin City Schools for 21 years as a math and science teacher in grades four, seven and eight; as assistant principal at Franklin Junior High School; and as principal at Hunter Elementary School before moving to Clinton-Massie Local Schools as assistant superintendent.

She and her family reside in Franklin.

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Centerville mom claims autistic son held in a ‘detention room’ size of a closet

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 5:43 PM

Centerville mom troubled with way school disciplined son

The mother of a Centerville student has filed a sheriff’s report claiming that her autistic son was placed in a room with no windows on Tuesday as a form of punishment for not meeting acceptable behavior standards.

The school district said the room has a window but would not talk about the specifics of the woman’s complaints.

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Monique Williams, the mother of 11-year-old Michael Dixon, a special needs student at Watts Middle School said her son was locked in a “small room similar to a closet as a form of punishment” instead of being allowed to attend the “Jazz on the Lawn” event with other students in his class, according to the sheriff’s report.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office had a deputy go to the school to investigate the incident.

Williams alleges in the police report that a teaching aide told her that her son, who also has ADHD and asthma, “did not acquire enough points on his good behavior to attend” the event, so he had to spend time in the room.

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She said she was told other students had been placed in the room for bad behavior and that her son was not injured. Her son told her that this was not the first time he had been placed in the room.

Sarah Swan, community relations specialist for the school district, said the district would not comment on the specifics of the allegation, but provided a statement on the issue.

“We cannot go into the specifics of the situation due to student confidentiality,” she said in a statement. “There is a room located in the office area at Watts Middle School that has traditionally been used when students lose privileges. The door to the room is kept open, and it also has a window.”

The investigation is ongoing, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

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Hamilton Schools to undergo security changes this summer

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 10:11 AM

Kings Schools are 1 of a few area districts using an anti-shooter device to keep students safer in classrooms.

It will be one of the busiest summer breaks in years for Hamilton City Schools as new security measures and procedures are installed for next school year, said district officials during Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Hamilton Schools Superintendent Larry Knapp presented an update on a variety of school security efforts and programs all designed to enhance the safety of students and staff in the 10,000-student city school system.

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School parents will receive information brochures on school emergency procedures, teachers will receive training in treating attack wounds, fire drills will be changed, and school officials are further coordinating with first responder police and fire departments.

And there will be more in-school counseling available for Hamilton students next school year.

But the most important changes are still to come, said Knapp.

These may include more armed officers in schools, bullet-proof film on school windows and classroom door barricades similar to those already in use in the Talawanda and Kings school districts.

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“All 13 buildings will undergo safety assessments with trained personnel,” he said in reference to school building evaluations done by local police and fire officials along with federal and Ohio Homeland Security personnel.

These security experts “know a lot more about what we can do as a school district to make our buildings safer,” said Knapp.

The new security measures will augment the current procedures already in place, many of which are staffed by armed Hamilton Police officers who patrol in the city schools.

“The Hamilton City School district will continue to share safety and security updates with our community as we improve our protocols and programs,” said Hamilton Schools Superintendent Larry Knapp.

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“We appreciate the partnership that we have developed with the Hamilton City Police Department and look forward to working with them to keep our students, and staff safe each and every day we are in session,” said Knapp.

“You are going to see more coming out of this and more personnel devoted towards this,” he said.

The 2017-2018 school year ended for Hamilton students last week.

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Threat cancels Middletown High School’s last day of classes

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 5:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 4:00 AM

Middletown High School modernized.

A threat of deadly violence will close Middletown High School today, prematurely ending the school year.

A student tip about a possibly deadly threat appeared serious enough to cancel classes for the high school on what was to be the last day of the school year, Middletown School officials told this news outlet Tuesday.

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Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. declined to reveal the nature of the threat but said Middletown Police, which provides officers in the city school district, was immediately notified and is now investigating the threat to determine who is responsible.

“The threat is specific enough that we believe the safest option for our students and staff is to close the high school (Wednesday),” Styles said.

The threat does not change tonight’s scheduled Middletown High School graduation ceremony at Barnitz Stadium, he said, adding that extra police protection will be in place for ceremony.

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All other Middletown schools will hold final day classes and activities today as planned.

“Our School Resource Police Officers (SRO) and staff reviewed videotapes and interviewed students and staff. The Butler County School Safety Director and Emergency Management Agency (EMA) are using their resources to scan social media. At Middletown City Schools, we take all threats seriously and we will press charges,” Styles said.

“We have been shown a sign of violence and we will act to keep our schools safe for all students and staff. We are encouraging parents to talk with their sons and daughters and report anything they might know (about the threat) to the Middletown Police Dispatch at 513-425-7700. That call will be kept confidential. As always, the safety and security of our students and staff is our number one priority,” he said.

“While we are saddened this is happening on the eve of our graduation celebration, we must keep our Middie family safe. We will have an increased police presence at graduation. Our focus tonight is celebrating our seniors and their successes,” Styles said.

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