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District Pushes for Phones in Class

If a waiver is approved by the state, students would be allowed to bring their own smart technology to use in the classroom to supplement their studies.

Officials with the are hoping a waiver of the state’s ban on personal communication devices will enable them to start a pilot program utilizing smart technology to aid in learning.

“It’s a growing trend nationwide,” said Bobby Blount, assistant superintendent for accountability, technology and strategic planning. “What we want to do is leverage their student-owned technology to increase access. We’re getting into a world where more and more testing is coming online. There’s a plethora of digital content out there. We want to be sure our students can access that and through teacher training and under the direction of teachers, allow our students to bring that into the classroom.”

The Board of Education voted Thursday night to submit the waiver application to the state. If approved, the school system would start letting students in a small number of schools bring their own technology, such as smart phones and tablets, to do things like reading digital online content, Web-based research or working collaboratively as a group or individually.

“(It’s) allowing every child to use whatever device works for them with the teacher as the true facilitator in the classroom, and the children are doing the research, finding the answers and validating and authenticating the results that they find,” Blount said.

With this program will come an acceptable use agreement, definitions of technology, access to the Internet and consequences for inappropriate use.

“There always is the potential for people to not use the policy the way (you hope they will),” said Superintendent Frank Petruzielo.

The pilot program likely will be introduced in one high school, middle school and elementary school. Officials are currently working out details, looking for good candidates to participate in the pilot program and crafting guidelines and procedures. The program will be voluntary and will require the signatures of parents and students participating to acknowledge that they understand the rules. The pilot program likely will begin as soon as the waiver is approved, Blount said.

“Probably within the next six months you’ll start seeing some pilots coming (online),” he said. “It’s all going to depend on interest.”

The board also approved recommended school boundaries for the 2012-2013 school year. Boundary Focus Group meetings were held in September and October for areas that will be affected by the opening of a new elementary school on Hunt Road and the replacement of Ball Ground Elementary School. Several parents spoke about the issue at a previous school board meeting, but none spoke Tuesday night.

According to the plan, the boundary area for the new elementary school on Hunt Road has approximately 796 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. That area includes those located south of Highway 92 between Bells Ferry Road and the Cobb County line, Kellogg Creek Road west of the Lake Allatoona bridge to the intersection of Highway 92, north of Highway 92 from Bells Ferry Road to Oak Grove Drive, west of Bells Ferry Road proceeding north from Highway 92 to Sandy Lane, Bells Ferry Road between Sandy Lane and Shadowood Drive but excluding the Shadowood Community, and east of Bells Ferry Road to Bascomb-Carmel Road and along Bascomb-Carmel Road to its intersection with Putnum Ford Drive.

There are approximately 305 kindergarten through fourth grade students affected by plans to amend the boundary of the district. The amended district has approximately 517 students and excludes properties south of the intersection of Bells Ferry and Bascomb-Carmel roads.

The boundary will be amended to exclude properties south of Highway 92 from Bells Ferry Road to the Cobb County line, Kellogg Creek Road west from the Lake Allatoona bridge to its intersection with Highway 92, and north of Highway 92 from the intersection of Bells Ferry Road and Oak Grove Drive. It will include properties on the west side of Bells Ferry Road from Shadowood Drive to the intersection of Bascomb-Carmel Road. Approximately 520 students in this area would attend the new Hunt Road elementary school, approximately 271 students would remain in the amended Oak Grove boundary area, and approximately 166 students will move from the Boston Elementary district to the Oak Grove Elementary District.

The boundary area for Ball Ground Elementary School will remain unchanged due to the construction of the new facility. That school will serve students in kindergarten through sixth grades, which officials say will alleviate overcrowding at . Additionally, will begin serving grades ninth through 12th.

Janet December 05, 2011 at 08:28 AM
Some people do not have internet access on phones. We only have 700 minutes shared between 5 people. No texting on our phones, just your basic phones. I see the phones as being a distraction to many students. I see many people between 12 - 25 and they are completely distracted by texting no matter what situation they are in. The test group should not consist of the Advanced classes where the students are disciplined, I think they would excel no matter what. It should consist of the average classroom. That would be the true test.

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