Pilot policy sparks concern

By on April 18, 2012

By: MICHAEL C. UPTON, Staff Writer

Record Express Correspondent

Parents of Warwick School District elementary students recently received a letter introducing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) pilot program.

One parent, Tom Oldham, expressed his concerns about the program during Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

According to a district document available on its website, the BYOD program "is an initiative that will allow students who have personal technology devices to bring them to school to use them for educational purposes under the direction of a teacher or administrator."

"Devices" are defined as any privately owned wireless device, such as laptops, pda’s, smartphones, tablets, etc.

Oldham, whose son is a 9-year old fourth grader in the district, expressed concern over the security measures that would limit students’ access to information. He questioned students’ ability to learn from the Internet’s myriad of answers, some of which may be incorrect.

"The technology I let my children use does not have a ubiquitous aspect," he said. "I have many controls on my Internet."

Oldham also had concerns about how teachers and administrators would monitor students’ learning and other activity on the device. The district document concerning BYOD addresses inappropriate use of a device:

"When students use technology inappropriately while on the school network, the same consequences (of the Acceptable Use and Electronic Devices Policies) apply, regardless of who owns the device."

Oldham was concerned that a student would be able to access another students device to use inappropriately. Also, the security of a device was something that worried Oldham.

"The letter states that the Warwick School District is not liable for stolen equipment. How can anyone make such a claim to us as parents (since) our children are not even allowed to have lockers to secure their equipment. I would strongly ask all of you to consider this aspect," he said.

The online district document addresses security risks with this declaration:

"It is always a good idea to record the device’s serial number to have in case of theft. The Warwick School District is not responsible for the theft of a device, nor are they responsible for any damage done to the device while at school. Any time a theft occurs, the student should contact a school administrator to make him/her aware of the offense."

Oldham stated he did e-mail Superintendent Dr. April Hershey about his concerns. He asked the board to reconsider the program. Hershey stated she did reply to his e-mail.

"I do know that the board is going to discuss those specifics. And certainly, both (Lititz Elementary Principal) Mrs. Calendar, myself, and our technology department stand at the ready to answer each of those individual questions," Hershey said.

In other business

? Also during time for public comment, district activist Howard Snoke presented business manager David Zerbe and two random board members with examples of prizes he awards children who most support his can collection program at two elementary schools. Through a random drawing of numbered slips of paper, Snoke awarded board president Dr. Timothy Quinn with a bank in the shape of a skunk, complete with white stripe, and board member Millard Eppig Jr. with a gray squirrel bank.

"There are two schools participating with me, that is Bonfield and Kissel Hill," Snoke said. "I wish the others would too. All the materials that build (the banks) come from Versatek. I just wanted to show you this is what I give to the kids."

? Hershey announced publicly last month’s official departure of long time district secretary Jo Anne McClain was due to health concerns. The board approved McClain’s resignation last month and Tuesday approved an unpaid leave of absence for the remainder of her term, retroactive to April 12 until Aug. 31. As announced in March, the business manager will fill in her secretarial duties for the board until the end of August.

"It has been a very difficult several months without her," said Hershey. "She is indeed irreplaceable. But, based on our current budget constraints, we have combined her position with another position. Many of her job responsibilities have been broken up. She gave over 20 years of service to this school district and she is sorely missed at this time."

To compensate, the board added to the work load of district public relations coordinator Lori Zimmerman, who will retain her current title along with adding that of special assistant to the superintendent.

? In other administrative restructuring moves, Principal Calendar will be taking the place of Keith Floyd, who left the district earlier this year. Her new position is Director of Elementary Education and Federal Programs, effective July 1.

? Sports sponsorships — Soon, local businesses will be able to show exactly how much pride they have in their Warriors. The district unveiled a pricing program for alternative funding by allowing banners on the tennis court, football stadium, gyms one and two, and baseball and softball fields. At maximum commitment, the district can stand to earn $10,200 for a three-year banner placement at one of three locations. Slots for a single banner for a single year at the same locations run $1,200. The lowest priced locations ($600 per banner, non-exclusive, per year) are the baseball and softball fields and gym two.

Businesses will be able to lock into one-, two-, or three-year exclusivity contracts. Exclusivity is defined as one business type per business category. For example, if a bank or an insurance group wants to lock out competitors on a certain location they can certainly do so. Full exclusivity allows one business to dominate an entire location. Partial exclusivity allows for only one business type per side of one location. Businesses can opt into non-exclusivity deals as well and are not limited to only one banner.

Interested businesses can contact Lori Zimmerman at lzimmerman@warwicksd.org or call 626-3734, ext. 3829. More SCHOOL BOARD, page A16