The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

October 26, 2013

District prefers tablets over books, eyes grant

BROOKFIELD — Jumping at the chance to fund the idea of giving each student a tablet computer and using up-to-date curriculum rather than 15-year-old textbooks, Brookfield School District applied for part of a statewide education grant that will be given to districts whose innovative ideas also show a cost-savings.

Because the district is in a fiscal emergency, a state-appointed oversight committee that monitors district spending held a special meeting Friday morning to approve the $850,000 grant application. The deadline for applying was midnight Friday.

Superintendent Tim Saxton explained to the group that giving each of the 1,100 students a tablet, along with purchasing updated digital curriculum and training teachers from kindergarten to 12th grade to use 21st-century education “apps,” plus updating the existing WiFi service is “front-loaded” with costs, but something the district can continue to afford down the road.

The district plan meets three key points of the Straight A grant requirements by showing a documented cost-savings for digital curriculum versus hardcover textbooks, academic achievement improvements because the tablet initiative allows for learning to be tailored to each student, and a positive financial impact long-term because it will reduce the money spent for textbooks. The district could expect to save $68,000 a year, Saxton said.

He also said he expects some savings in personnel costs because he anticipates less of a need for tutoring and intervention instruction. The students, he said, would have access to the tablets “24/7” rather than carrying outdated textbooks home.

To purchase updated textbooks in the four core areas – math, social studies, science and English – would cost about $1.2 million, he said.

“In a district like Brookfield, whose fiscal resources were unable to provide updated hard-copy textbooks, this is a viable and innovative solution,” Saxton said.

He also said he is negotiating with different vendors for the initial purchase of the tablets, which he anticipates will cost about $540,000. The tablets can be updated every three to five years and the required digital licenses will be good for seven years, Saxton said. After seven years, the district would spend about $35,000 a year for licenses.

While the K-12 building itself is relatively new, the current WiFi capabilities can support about 350 devices. Saxton said he received a bid earlier this week for about $40,000 that would upgrade that capability to handle all the tablet devices.

The fiscal commission voted unanimously to approve the grant application. Chairman Paul Marshall said he was in favor of trying to get a piece of the grant, even though the district will incur some costs in the future to maintain the tablets because “textbooks are so 1980s.”

The district will be notified on Dec. 17 if it will receive the grant money.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • News briefs from April 19, 2014

    April 19, 2014

  • Man admits having child porn

    A Mercer man accused of soliciting and downloading photographs of nude teenage girls pleaded guilty April 8 to sexual abuse of children for possessing child pornography.

    April 19, 2014

  • Police getting new tool to fight crime

    Sharon police working at crime scenes will be putting a powerful new investigative tool to work as soon as next month.

    April 19, 2014

  • Soap box derby finds new home

    The Greater Pennsylvania Super Kids soap box derby for special-needs kids is moving to Sharpsville.

    April 19, 2014

  • News briefs from April 18, 2014

    ‘Nonspecific threat’ prompts evacuation

    Supreme Court refuses to hear couple’s appeal

    Lung Association offering free radon test kits

    April 18, 2014

  • Man admits to choking; rape case is dropped

    A Greenville man on Thursday pleaded down a rape case to simple assault and continued to deny that he committed any sexual crimes.

    April 18, 2014

  • Judge issues tabletop ads injunction against couple

    A judge recently handed down an injunction prohibiting a Sharon man, his wife and two companies associated with the wife from working in the tabletop advertising business within 100 miles of Sharon.

    April 18, 2014

  • Tech waste eyed for new contact

    The current Hermitage solid waste contract was designed to increase recycling while reducing the amount of garbage placed at the curb, and it has lived up to its promise.

    April 18, 2014

  • WaterFire Rekindled

    WaterFire Sharon has chosen themes for its festivals to be held on three Saturdays in downtown Sharon. “Elements” will be the theme July 19, “Origins” for Aug. 23 and “Motion” for the Sept. 27 celebration.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • News briefs from April 17, 2014

    Man arrested for running from accident scene

    UPMC, Southwest eyeing security at hospital

    Crashes cause diversion of Interstate 80 traffic

    Court supports prison term in chase case

    Woman gets 5-10 years in crash that killed officer

    April 17, 2014

  • Officials pledge support to sewer project

    Publicly declaring their intention to donate county land to the Upper Neshannock Watershed Authority, Commissioners Matt McConnell and John Lechner said there’s no need for Commissioner Brian Beader to worry about the loss of the sewer project at the Interstate 80/Route 19 interchange.

    April 17, 2014

  • Griswold Avenue fire Neighbors tried to save victim

    As flames and thick smoke poured out of a Sharon house Tuesday evening, neighbors rallied to try and save the man who lived there alone.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Woman nabbed, sister sought in assault

    Southwest Mercer County Regional police have arrested a Hermitage woman for breaking into a home in Farrell and beating a woman and are seeking the alleged assailant’s sister.

    April 16, 2014

  • Despite good deeds, man going back to prison

    Linda K. Kretzer had nothing but praise for Raymond C. McKelvey.

    April 16, 2014

  • 15-year-old legal battle returning to county court

    State Supreme Court has let stand a Superior Court decision sending a landmark medical malpractice case back to Mercer County Common Pleas Court.

    April 16, 2014