Use of technology will increase at Hartington-Newcastle School

HARTINGTON — More technology will soon be a part of Hartington-Newcastle Public Schools.
Principal Corey Uldrich Monday reported his plans to introduce more technology into HNS classrooms, including the implementation of the increasingly popular One-to-One initiative.
One-to-One computer programs aim to replace traditional tools of education (textbooks, handwritten notes and assignments) with electronic devices in an effort to provide students with basic 21st century computer skills and save money.
Uldrich said HNS teachers have already gone through learning sessions on how to use the Chromebook laptops, which will be distributed to grades 7-12 at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.
Uldrich quieted skepticism the board had over the idea by explaining the Chromebooks would have a program called GoGuardian installed. GoGuardian allows teachers to monitor students’ screens, keeps a blacklist of certain websites, blackens student screens and shut off the internet connection of a computer if needed.
“It’s the teachers way of monitoring their students and what they’re doing,” Uldrich said.
Uldrich also updated plans to change teachers’ methods of entering grades. He said he’s looking at two websites– Canvas and Google School – both of which will allow students to communicate with their teachers and access online resources.
“If the kids are gone, they should still be able to communicate with the teacher,” Uldrich said.
HNS Supt. A.J. Johnson reported to the board he’d recently come back from a mental health conference in Omaha, where he learned of different ways schools are providing for students with mental health issues.
He mentioned some schools in Lincoln and Omaha have begun mental health screenings at the beginning of the year. If HNS were to adopt this policy, Johnson said they would likely go along with regular health checkups at the beginning of the year.
Johnson also suggested expanding support for students with these issues, though there might be issues with finding convenient access.
“It’s very difficult for them to find services like kids in Lincoln or Omaha,” Johnson said.
The board also voted unanimously to increase adult breakfast pricing to $2.05 per meal. This decision was made to follow federal free and student lunch program reimbursement guidelines. Johnson suggested the school encourage parents to enroll children in the program, as it will allow the school to qualify for federal funding.
“I understand there’s a stigma,” Johnson said. “But it’d be good for the school if more people applied for that.”
Along with signing teacher contracts for summer school, the school board also completed another round of policy updates. The board approved 29 different general policies adhering to state and national law from nondiscrimination to prohibiting corporal punishment.
The meeting adjourned after the board voted unanimously on a roughly two percent raise for non-certified school staff.