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District 201 approves electronic devices to be used in school

MINOOKA – Students in Minooka School District 201 can now bring their own computers and other electronic devices to school.

The school board voted 6-0 at the Wednesday meeting to allow the change as a way to supplement the district’s supply of such equipment.

With more online assessments and computer programs in the classroom, teachers at Minooka grade schools are having a difficult time getting all students on the limited number of computers.

While the district is pushing technology in the classroom, the computer carts are in high demand and difficult to get ahold of, one teacher said during the meeting.

Assistant Superintendent Steph Palaniuk said the district likely doesn’t have enough computers for one-third or more of its students. Except for the recently-purchased Chromebooks, the older computers don’t always work properly.

Until the district can work enough computers into the budget, the BYOD proposal, or bring your own device, allows students to bring in laptops, iPads and other portable devices to use in the classroom.

But there are parameters, Palaniuk said. Devises must have a screen of seven inches (diagonal) or larger.

Cellphones, iPod Touch and other small-screen devices will not be allowed, per the student handbook, in order to keep students from doing tasks unrelated to school work.

The larger screens make it easier for teachers to keep track of what students are doing, Palaniuk said.

The proposal gives the district the right to monitor personal devices to ensure no inappropriate websites are accessed or behaviors are used.

It also outlines other topics such as anti-virus protection, where the devices can be used and consequences for violating policies.

The district has allowed personal computers to be brought to school for some time, but this makes it official and provides guidelines for the program.

While a few other schools have similar programs, Minooka District 201 is on the forefront, Superintendent Al Gegenheimer said.

Board President Jim Satorius recommended the purchase of one additional cart of Chromebooks to supplement the supply at Minooka Intermediate.

The cart, which includes 30 computers, costs between $7,000 and $8,000. A docking station would add an additional $2,000 to the cost.

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