Newspaper Archive of
Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
February 26, 2014     Feather River Bulletin
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February 26, 2014

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Feather Raver Bulletin Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 7A Superintendent Micheline Miglis checks out the brand new 2014 Bluebird propane-powered school bus Feb. 12. Miglis said the purchase of the $147,996 bus is a result of grants from the California Department of Education Small School Bus Replacement program. The district dismantled one of its old buses and is looking forward to the Cost savings the propane bus will provide in reduced fuel costs and increased engine life, according to maintenance supervisor Ken Pierson. Photo submitted Propane power The Ford Roush liquid propane injected V-lO engine automatically starts itself, has on-spot tire chains, a single switch that turns on all outside lights, and a fuel tank. .... =7 +" " Mechanic Mike Pence said the new bus's features will save time, ensure better safety and make bus maintenance easier. Photo by Laura Beaton School district aims to bring 21st-century learning to class Laura Beaton Staff Writer "Many of the jobs students will have don't even exist yet. And they'll use technology that hasn't been invented to find solutions for problems that haven't emerged." This statement is the premise of a short video by McKeowTube titled "What is 21st-Century Learning?" With a state mandate to implement adaptive testing for students, having the right technology is critical. Adaptive tests are taken on computers, which are able to assess a student's skill level according to his or her response, and adapt the level of test questions accordingly. Twenty-first-century technology is the wave of the present. One of the key components to attaining that status quo is to establish a one-to-one computer-to-student ratio in schools nationwide -- including right here in Plumas County. Russ Selken, information technology director "on loan" from Butte County Office of Education, provided a mid-year progress report on the status of educational technology in Plumas County to the Plumas Unified School District's board of directors Feb. 13. Selken has a 30-year background in the tech industry and travels all over the country and beyond helping develop affordable IT systems and solutions for educational institutions. He is the state education network director and helps connect all 58 counties in California. Selken works about one day a week with the county's tech coordinator, Julian Wells, on upgrading and installing technology in all district schools and departments. " Selken's self-defined role is to give support, advice, assistance and guidance to create and implement a vision for the county's technological future. Current status Selken told the board that the current IT approach is a "Band-Aid" one. He said there is no clear infrastructure approach and that purchases for technology are reactionary. Serious issues include inadequate electronics and wireless systems, old workstations, inadequate IT support and a cabling infrastructure that needs replacing. He likened the existing system to a drinking straw but the volume needed by the district is that of a big pipe. He said it's fortunate that Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative's fiber optic cable is bringing us that pipe. The district currently has 954 total technological devices, including PCs, tablets and servers. The IT department has been restructured to better meet the needs of a far-flung community. The results include more on-site tech support and $72,000 less in salaries. The solution Selken outlined steps to solve the dilemmaa First, he said, the district needs to commit to funding infrastructure by April 1 and complete the project by August. Next, he suggests piloting devices like iPads, Google and low-end laptops. Too often, Selken said, districts allocate millions of dollars to purchase devices before piloting them, running into huge problems when for one reason or another they don't work out. He recommends no new wireless purchases until infrastructure is complete. Then he recommends lifting the purchase freeze, and beginning to buy devices. Selken said deciding on one device will keep costs lower, ensure better tech support and lessen teachers' learning curves. Meanwhile, professional development for teachers should begin, with a plan and vision in place. The goal is to establish a one-to-one computer ratio. This could include students bringing in their own devices. The district will be wireless campuswide. And a paradigm shift in classroom teaching wilt be phased in as the other goals are met. Sticker shock Then Selken prepared the board for sticker shock. He estimated $987,650 for infrastructure and labor, and $650,000 for 1,700 -- the number of district students -- devices, for a grand total of $1,637,650. Selken has the knowledge, expertise, connections and resources to help the district achieve its goal of providing 21st-century classrooms that turn out 21st-century learners. Now all that is needed to make the plan a reality is to allocate the funds and get started. "If we were to win the lottery, that's what we need," Selken said. / The pristine interior of the newest of the district's 43-bus fleet contains room for 57 students with seat belts for all passengers. The bus needs to be retrofitted with video cameras and a two-way radio before it is put into service, said the district's Automotive Service Excellence-certified master mechanic, Mike Pence. Photo submitted ip! We Need Your Help! 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