Tables decision regarding student cell phone use
by Aaron Brom
SUN PRESS Newspapers
The St. Michael-Albertville School Board approved a motion to submit an application to the state for the Q-comp teacher performance pay plan.
The board also tabled a decision whether to allow students to “Bring Your Own Device” as a way to enhance learning.
Supt. Jim Behle updated the board about Q-Comp, a voluntary program that allows school districts and teachers to design and collectively bargain to improve teaching and learning, and reward teachers with performance incentive compensation.
Behle said 60 state school districts participate in the program. Every teacher would be evaluated three times per year by a principal and/or instructional coach. Also, every week 50 minutes would be set aside for teachers to analyze student data, plan for interventions, support and monitor implementation of district and school training, and to utilize best practices.
Behle said Q-Comp would be beneficial to STMA because:
• There is no state funding to implement evaluation statutes;
• Expands performance pay to teachers;
• Includes a process for teachers who are not proficient or exemplary on evaluation;
• Provides a means to improve math instruction;
• Aligns math focus with curriculum review;
• Meets strategic plan vision.
Behle said, by implementing the program, the district can also choose to levy up to an additional $91 per pupil unit up to $510,000. While the maximum levy is $91, Behle also gave examples of $20 and $35. He said these amounts would bring the performance pay stipend for a proficient or exemplary evaluation to $1,000 and $1,200, respectively.
The plan would go into effect in 2014-15, and there would be one time startup costs of around $30,000 that would come from district dollars.
Behle said an application must submitted to the state department of education by May 15.
Board members Doug Birk, Jeanne Holland, Jeff Lindquist, Gayle Weber, Drew Scherber and Carol Steffens agreed they might support a small levy amount with additional data and discussion. Scherber also requested information on what other school districts in the area levy.
The board approved submitting the Q-Comp application to the department of education contingent on board approval of plan changes and tentative agreement on the final terms and conditions of the plan between the school district and teachers’ union.
In other news, current school board policy restricts student use of cell phones and mobile devices, but a proposal to enhance learning means students would be allowed to “Bring Your Own Device.”
Technology director Wayne Hoistad, curriculum director Ann-Marie Foucault, high school principal Bob Driver and Middle School West teacher Ryan Canton served on a wireless infrastructure and mobile devices committee and were present with an update.
Hoistad said the committee found that educational models are shifting as students spend more time learning online. He said the committee’s current proposal includes a Bring Your Own Device program that is becoming more commonplace in schools. The committee recommends the district provide appropriate infrastructure, or wireless network, and ensure devices enhance learning.
Hoistad said the emphasis would be on engaging students how to properly use their device in school, with clear expectations and consequences.
The committee believes that by pairing personalized learning with technology, teachers can better help students learn what they need through things that interest them. The committee recommended a wireless infrastructure to provide capacity and coverage; a phased in approach regarding Bring Your Own Device which includes school board policy changes with guidelines for students, staff and administration; and support for teachers including staff development regarding best instructional practices.
The implementation plan includes upgraded infrastructure at the high school and two classrooms at the middle schools.
The approximate cost of wireless infrastructure would be $165,000 over five years. The committee requested board approval to move forward with wireless infrastructure and a phased Bring Your Own Device program, which would include a change in board policy.
Board members supported some areas of the proposal but had apprehension about student equity for Bring Your Own Device, additional and future funding costs, and equivalence between elementary schools. Some board members felt the connection between mobile devices and student learning was not clearly established.
Supt. Jim Behle said there was no specific deadline and the board could postpone a decision or request further information. The board tabled the decision and will continue discussion May 20.