EPS bond expected to enhance technology in the classroom

Students in Mrs. Tammy Hromas' fourth-grade classroom use iPads as they complete assignments at Hayes Elementary School Friday, January 22, 2016. (Bonnie Vculek / Enid News & Eagle)

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third of a four-part series detailing the over $90 million bond proposal to improve facilities, technology, transportation, and safety and security in Enid Public Schools campuses.

Enid Public Schools will put $6 million of a more than $90 million bond toward updating technology — providing one mobile device for each child.

At the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, there were 8,161 students enrolled in the district. 

EPS Director of Communications Amber Graham Fitzgerald explained the desired 1:1 ratio, saying each child will get a personal electronic device.

“Either an iPad or a Chromebook,” she said. “Teachers will help recommend which device to purchase for different age levels because we want to provide students with whatever will best assist them in their learning.”

Enid residents will vote on the bond to improve facilities, transportation, technology and safety and security on campuses across the Enid Public Schools district.

The district has projected benefits to EPS would total $55.8 million, but adding fees and interest brings the price tag to $92,795,000. Legally, bond money cannot go toward teacher salaries or administrative fees. 

If voters approve the bond by 60 percent, as required by law for school bond elections, implementation will begin this fall, Fitzgerald said.

“We plan to be fully implemented the following year,” she said. “The timeline, which will include training on technology integration, is very important because we want implementation to be smooth and positive for everyone involved.”

To handle the influx and demand of all these devices, the district’s wireless network will need improvements, Fitzgerald said.

“This includes wireless connection, along with hardware such as switches and servers,” she said. “It is the backbone infrastructure that makes it possible for teachers and students to effectively use technology in the classroom.”

Tammy Hromas and Susan Brinley, fourth-grade teachers at Hayes Elementary School, said in a written statement they implement iPads in their classroom instruction.

“We use the iPads for all subjects,” they said. “Our role as teachers have changed, for we are not at the front of the room feeding them information all day. Instead, we are often the facilitator, providing guidelines, setting goals for the students and moving around the room as they discover and share information with their peers. We have instant access to information that supplements our curriculum.”

Fitzgerald said the district is excited to offer students better technology access.

“Studies have shown that the use of individual devices enriches classroom learning, increases student engagement, improves academic results and allows students to study more efficiently,” she said. “We also anticipate significant operational savings because we will need to use less paper and can benefit from digital textbooks.”

Enid voters will go to the polls Feb. 9 to vote for or against the bond. 

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