The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 28, 2012

Joplin school board to consider technology program, bid packages

By Emily Younker
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — A proposal to equip Joplin eighth-graders with tablet computers is the latest one-to-one technology initiative to go before the Board of Education.

The board, at its meeting Tuesday, will consider a $174,744 bid from Apple for iPads, with a goal of distributing the computers at the eighth-grade level by the 2013-14 academic year, according to documentation provided by the district. If the program is approved, the district would become a partner for consultation and professional development with Project RED, a national, nonprofit organization that emphasizes one-to-one technology.

Board members will also consider approval of more than a dozen bids related to the schools currently under construction, including bids for precast concrete, glass, drywall, athletic equipment and security at Irving Elementary School; precast concrete, concrete footings and structural steel for Joplin High School and Franklin Technology Center; and masonry at East Middle School.

Board President Randy Steele said the board can expect to see a steady stream of bid packages on upcoming meeting agendas as construction on the new schools starts takes off.

“We’re going to start seeing a lot of that coming,” he said.

Nonaction items on Tuesday’s agenda include presentations for board members about two programs with an impact on the district.

Paul Barr, chief financial officer, will provide information on the tax-increment financing district being proposed by the city’s master developer to help fund its proposed recovery projects following the May 2011 tornado. A TIF district allows cities to repay certain costs developers incur from the increase in taxes their developments generate; the school district would be the largest taxing district within the proposed area, which covers much of the city of Joplin.

Staff and parents will present a standards-based grading system, which does away with traditional letter grades and instead assesses students with terms such as “Met,” “Not Met,” “Exceeding” or “Emerging.”

The grading system, in use at a handful of Joplin schools, has been controversial among some parents. Steele said inclusion of the system at Tuesday’s meeting is informational only; no votes will be taken.

“The (agenda item) is just information brought to the board and where we’re at,” he said. “It’s still a pilot program, and because it’s a pilot program, we as a board may ask questions. In that discussion, they’re going to present to us what they’re doing at the school.”

The meeting will be preceded by a work session in which board members will discuss the district’s dropout-prevention programs. Also listed on the agenda for both the work session and the meeting are closed sessions for the purposes of legal matters, real estate and personnel issues.

Meeting details

The Joplin Board of Education will meet at 5:30 p.m. for a work session and at 7 p.m. for its regular meeting Tuesday at the administration building, 3901 E. 32nd St.