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Watkins reviews classroom technology

WATKINS GLEN—Myron Rumsey, director of technology for Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour school districts, spoke to the Watkins board about devices and technology used, Monday, Nov. 22.
Watkins Superintendent Tom Phillips said an administrative position was eliminated with the budget approval earlier this year, so there is now only one technology administrator shared by the two school districts.  He explained this meant Watkins could then provide more tech support and instruction to the teachers.
Rumsey discussed the immediate impact of these changes as well as the effect on future technology planning.  Phillips added that the staffing change has been effective for Watkins so far.
Rumsey spoke to the Watkins board about the mobile learning devices (MLD) in use at the middle school.  He said there was no model for using such devices in the classroom, so Watkins is in effect making one.  Phillips said earlier this month 64 professionals (from 23 school districts and four BOCES) visited Watkins Glen to see the MLDs in use.
Rumsey added one thing the district is finding it may need is a wireless network.  He explained that sometimes there are so many students using Verizon’s service that down times occur.  Rumsey said students could use the wireless network at school, and Verizon’s service at home or on field trips.
Board President Brian O’Donnell asked about the district using MLDs, while BOCES is still using laptops.  Rumsey said this seemed to be the way technology is going as many schools are looking at Watkins and the MLDs.
During his report, Rumsey pointed out some of the benefits of the technology Watkins is using.  He pointed out several trends in technology the district is following: mobility, handheld, and a 1:1 ratio for students and devices.  Rumsey explained the MLDs make the district reevaluate how instruction is given.  He said it also leads to more student led instruction, meaning the students are more involved.
In other business:
The board appointed David Waite as a volunteer assistant varsity boys basketball coach.
Phillips distributed a comparison of state testing (grades three to eight) to Regents results for the class of 2010 and class of 2011.  He said these results indicate that student success rates on the Comprehensive English Regents exam were significantly higher than state testing results when in grade eight.
Phillips told the board that this data refutes the rationale which the New York State Education Department used in resetting the grades three to eight cut scores this past July.
The workshop meeting began with the board remembering Robert Church, retired cleaner/custodian, who passed away Nov. 13.  He was employed by the district for over 23 years.
The next regular school board meeting is Monday, Dec. 6.  It is expected to begin at 6:30 p.m., following an executive session. 


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