By LISA M. HOFFMANN
NORWAY - An iPad for students in grades four through 12 is being proposed as part of the Nov. 6 bond proposal for the Norway-Vulcan Area Schools District.
Superintendent Lou Steigerwald said the bond proposal will be for improvements to technology by providing all students in fourth grade through 12 with an iPad and adding VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) throughout the district.
Speaking at a sparsely attended forum Wednesday night, Steigerwald added the bond proposal also includes improvements on the roof as the current shingles are curling, will replace light poles that are rusty, update the security system throughout the building by replacing the metal frames and doors and adding a programmable key lock, and replace sinks and toilets in bathrooms.
The bond, if passed, will update the PA system throughout the building, add telephones to each classroom, and replace the current gym floor and bleachers.
Lisa M. Hoffmann/The Daily News Photo
Norway-Vulcan Area Schools Superintendent Lou Steigerwald explains the educational uses of an iPad to those in attendance at the forum. A bond proposal for the district to make improvements to the school building and upgrades to technology is on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Steigerwald said iPads "completely change the way we offer education to kids and provide access to what we use in real life."
Some applications on the iPad include interactive quizzes and tests, flash cards, anatomical terminology, keyboard lessons, scientific calculators, and social network for the school.
Jacqueline Leiker who teaches computers and computer programming at Kingsford High School and is using the iPad in her classroom said it is a great tool for students and parents.
Leiker said the iPad improves communication between students and parents.
With the iPad, textbooks can be downloaded and students can write in the books, highlight important topics and make notes.
Scientific calculators are available and free on an iPad.
"It lets kids practice on tests," Leiker said. "It's amazing. I can't stay enough about it."
Leiker said the iPad is the next generation and it's a matter of which district is going to start using it first.
Calumet Schools is already using the iPad in the classrooms.
"Teachers are excited. It's amazing what technology can do," Leiker said.
Steigerwald said if the bond proposal passes, the district's pilot program would send fourth grade students and up home with an iPad.
Steigerwald mentioned how a three-year-old boy figured out how to use the iPad when he was at a sporting event last week.
He said this technology is intuitive for today's generation.
As for improvements to the school building, Steigerwald said telephones would be added to all classrooms, which will help administration in tracking where students are without announcing who they are looking for over the PA system.
With a new security system in which students and staff would use a programmable key to enter the building, Steigerwald said the district will be able to find out who goes in and out of the building.
The current gym floor would be replaced with a "floating floor" and new bleachers which will retract back to the wall and be low-rise.
"The gym is going to look like a new place," Steigerwald said.
Steigerwald added that VOIP, a phone line through the computer system, will save the district money on its phone bill.
Lighting improvements to the library, hallways and classrooms through WPPI will also have an energy-savings component.
If there is enough money with the bond, Steigerwald said, the weight room would be moved and the woodworking room, which is no longer in use, would be repurposed.
Because of historically low interest rates, the district is able to sell about $2.9 million worth of bonds and keep millage rates the same.
Steigerwald said if the bond passes, it would not be used for teacher salaries or raises and everyday maintenance.
"It cannot be used to pay for normal district personnel costs," he said.
Steigerwald noted the bond proposal is taking one set of bonds, buying them and keeping interest rates flat.
"If we do this, there is no change in taxes. If it does not pass, there will be a decrease in the millage rate," he said.
A You Tube video, titled "Why Knights Yes," created by Leiker and uploaded on Monday, explains the bond proposal improvements without tax increases. The video shows pictures of the current roof, bleachers, gym floors, locker rooms, and bathrooms. Through pictures of students, the video details how improvements to the school stairwell leading to the gym would improve the safety of children with no increase in the millage debt.
The bond proposal on the ballot asks voters the following:
Shall Norway-Vulcan Area Schools, Dickinson and Menominee counties borrow the sum of not to exceed $3.6 million and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds therefore, for the purpose of partially remodeling, furnishing and refurbishing, equipping and re-equipping the Norway-Vulcan Area School; acquiring and installing educational technology for school facilities, together with related infrastructure improvements; equipping, developing and improving playgrounds; and developing and improving the site?
Dickinson and Menominee voters should be aware the estimated millage that will be levied for the proposed bonds in 2013 is .95 mill for a zero net increase in debt millage. The maximum number of years the bonds may be outstanding is 13 years.
The next forum will be held on Monday, Oct. 29, at 6 p.m. in the library.
Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.