Tuesday, March 17th, 2009
School officials get lesson on new Internet technology
By Shelley Grieshop
ST. HENRY - School officials have decided to practice what they preach to students by incorporating technology into their everyday activities.
The St. Henry board of education meeting Monday night turned into a lesson in technology for board members as they took a crash course on PBWiki and Google Documents. The free Internet programs may help reduce e-mails and make correspondence more efficient between Superintendent Rod Moorman, his staff and the board, explained Student Services Director Kim Nellis.
"We've integrated technology into our way of teaching and use it to challenge students," she said.
It's time, Nellis said, for students to see their administrators, teachers and school board implement technology in the tasks they perform each day.
Nellis and Melinda Gregor, a high school English and technology teacher, gave a PowerPoint tutorial to the group on PBWiki (PB stands for peanut butter - developers say it's "easy as making a peanut butter sandwich") and Google Documents.
PBWiki - besides having a silly sounding name - allows a user to set up a Web site where they can safely and securely invite individuals to collaborate on projects. Just like the online tool Wikipedia, data on the site can be edited by viewers given access, the women explained.
It was suggested that Moorman could create an account and invite board members via e-mail to visit the page for input on documents such as a flyer currently being created to explain the upcoming levy to district residents.
"Google Docs" is a word processing application for creating and editing all types of documents on a separate account online. Collaboration on spreadsheets, presentations and a variety of documents can be done in real-time with other users.
One of the board members asked if either program violates the Sunshine Laws that upholds citizens rights to access public records. After a brief discussion, the group agreed any online information would have to be archived as a public record but decided it would be best to consult the school's attorney before proceeding.
Both programs would eliminate the process of sending and receiving numerous e-mails with attachments, Nellis said. Gregor said her students continue to use both programs to help organize and secure their school work, which they can retrieve and/or work on from any Internet-accessible computer.
In other business, board members:
• Learned the school received national certification March 10 for their Project Lead the Way program, which incorporates engineering technology in the classroom. This is the fourth year for the program that New Bremen and Fort Recovery schools also are participating in through grant funding.
• Accepted the resignation of Cindy Piper who retired Feb. 28. She has taught at the school for 30 years.
• Approved the resignation of teacher Linda Schwegman effective June 1. She has taught in St. Henry for 29 years.
• Approved the resignation and retirement of Gary Weigel effective Aug. 1. He has been a teacher/coach for 34 years.
• Approved a single-duty contract for Casey Hamilton, a New Bremen high school graduate, who will serve as junior varsity softball coach for the 2008-2009 season.
• Approved the hiring of Larry Post as a volunteer softball coach for the spring season.
• Approved Gabriel Gregor as a kindergarten tuition student beginning March 2 through the rest of the school year at a cost of $406.
• Approved a 60 percent tax abatement for DDT&J Village Plaza (four mini-mall businesses) and a 100 percent tax abatement for Thobe Enterprises (T&L Lift Trucks).
• Approved a resolution requesting the Mercer County Education Service Center explore the potential efficiencies of scale and cost savings through a merger with the Auglaize County Educational Service Center.
• Approved the reduction of bus routes from seven to six for the school year 2009-2010 as one of several cost-cutting measures.