Lake Zurich D-95 rolls out $4M investment in technology
A student uses an iPad to supplement his Spanish course work. District 95 approved a $4 million plan in February to increase its use of technology. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 15, 2013 11:05AM
LAKE ZURICH — Community Unit School District 95 hopes to break problematic learning habits like rote memorization through its new 1:1 technology initiative.
The district officially set that goal in motion Feb. 28 when School Board members adopted an expanded instructional Technology Plan, which supplies the necessary equipment, staffing and professional development.
The plan, referred to as the 1:1 initiative, aims to achieve a student-to-computer ratio of one-to-one at the middle and high school levels over the course of three years. The initiative also aims to enhance the use of technology at the elementary school level.
By the end of the current school year, the high school will have 600 iPads assigned for students and 60 for teachers. The middle schools will have 500 for students and 16 for teachers.
The technological investment, which is expected to reach around $4 million, will be financed over a number of years, officials said.
“I think this is going to be a significant improvement in our ability to deliver information efficiently to our students, and I’m very glad that we are at this point,” board member Doug Goldberg said.
At the School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michael Egan presented an overview of the district’s overall mission.
“Students need to realize that one resource (textbooks) does not provide a complete understanding of an idea, issue or concept,” he said. “Our district must encourage students to use technology to move beyond the classroom resources and deepen their understanding of content and issues.”
According to the district’s 2011-2014 technology plan, an absence of devices has presented a significant obstacle to students hoping to make use of digital educational resources.
To date, District 95’s student-to-computer ratio has come up short of both the national and local averages. The overall ratio in 2008 was 4.6-to-1, while the national average the same year was 3.1-to-1.
While District 95 has improved its student-to-computer ratio to 3.39-to-1, district officials said its students are now just reaching the point that other area school districts were at several years ago.
From a broader perspective, however, District 95’s overall student-to-device ratio is now 2.5-to-1.
The improvement, officials said, is due to a series of steps in recent years toward a digital transition. Most recently, the district implemented an Environmental iPad pilot program at the high school.
Officials also highlighted the “flipped” science classroom pilots at middle schools north and south, where class instruction and lectures were pre-recorded and delivered on demand. That way, class time was opened up for more for student questions, guided practice or lab time.
The additional student devices, provided by the district’s Educational Foundation, allowed students in the flipped classrooms to create and study videos of labs, communicate with classmates and teachers, research content to deepen understanding, and create digital portfolios of learning.
Jean Malek, District 95’s director of communications, said some teachers will receive their iPads as early as this spring, and students will receive theirs at the start of the 2013-14 school year.
Malek said administrators will determine who receives the first of next school year’s iPads based on high school courses or middle school grade level.