District uses levy funds to distribute Chromebooks to all students
VANCOUVER — Thanks to the financial support of the community, Battle Ground Public Schools has enough Chromebooks to provide every one of its K-12 students who need one with a computing device. The district distributed devices this week to middle and high school students who didn’t already have one, and will distribute Chromebooks next week to primary students.
Over the last four years, Battle Ground Public Schools has used levy funds to roll out its 1:1 computing initiative, expanding Chromebook distribution to additional grades each year. This year, all students in grades 6-10 were assigned a Chromebook to take home for school use. The district also had a supply of Chromebooks for classroom use, and is distributing those to enrolled students that need a computing device to engage in remote learning.
Remote learning has taken the place of traditional, face-to-face classroom learning as Washington state residents have been ordered to learn and work from home during the public health crisis to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“The crisis presents a tremendous challenge and opportunity for us to look at how we deliver instruction to our 13,000 students using a model never imagined by traditional public schools,” said Mark Ross, Battle Ground Public Schools superintendent. “We have tremendous talent in our district and individuals who are dedicated to making this new way of learning a reality for our students. We are thankful to our community for supporting the education of our youth and making it possible for us to provide computing devices to all of our students.”
Funding for the district’s 1:1 computing initiative is provided by local levy funds. At $3.08 per $1,000 of assessed property value, Battle Ground’s tax rate is the lowest of all K-12 school districts in Clark County. The tax rate includes $2.50 for the maintenance and operations levy, part of which is used to purchase and maintain student Chromebooks. The district does not have a separate technology levy. A bond that was passed in 2005 and will expire in 2023 accounts for the rest of the tax rate.
Key to providing remote learning to the majority of students is technology, and Battle Ground’s technology and curriculum teams quickly stepped up to clean and distribute devices, support students’ technical needs at home, and train teachers on the intricacies of remote learning software.
The district’s Chromebook distribution effort will provide students with the foundational tools to engage in remote learning. Teachers are using technology resources such as Google Classroom to deliver and collect assignments and provide feedback on student work, and video conferencing software to conduct face-to-face interaction.
“Now more than ever, technology plays a critical role in education,” said Scott McDaniel, the district’s director of Technology Services. “Providing this level of access will allow us to support student learning at home and increase student engagement.”
In the four weeks since its buildings closed, Battle Ground Public Schools has trained 75 percent of its staff on remote learning tools such as Google Classroom through online professional development classes led by the district’s Google certified instructors. Battle Ground was named a Google for Education Reference District by the company last year, which recognized the district for its innovative use of technology to drive impact and positive learning outcomes. Battle Ground has a host of teachers and staff who have earned Google certifications.
Battle Ground chose Chromebooks as its device of choice because of the administrative controls it offers for software security and device management, as well as the built-in keyboard.
The district recognizes that not all students have internet access at home, and is working to acquire hotspots and to connect families to low-cost options. The district is also providing paper learning packets to students who need them.
Information provided by Battle Ground Public Schools.