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West Burlington Schools Expected to Continue 1-1 Program

Jason Parrott

It appears the West Burlington School District's first attempt at a 1-1 technology initiative will not prevent it from continuing to put new technology in the hands of students. For Superintendent Dave Schmitt, the decision is a "no-brainer."

"The board agrees completely that we need to continue with the 1-1 initiative," said Schmitt. "With the failure of the KUNOS, there was, I think we all had a little bit of doubt about how we should proceed, if we should continue or what we should do. The board and administration all agree we should continue with the 1-1."

The district purchased hundreds of KUNOS devices, which are an education-based electronic tablet, from an Indiana-based company with the idea of giving students unlimited access to them. The purchase did not go as planned because the district is now suing the company.

Schmitt could not discuss the specifics of the pending litigation, which revolves around the dependability of the devices and the company's response. The Keokuk and Van Buren School Districts are also suing the company regarding the devices.

The devices are not being ignored, despite the lawsuit. Schmitt said they are still being used regularly by elementary school students and sporadically by junior high schools, but not at all by high schoolers. He said that cannot continue, so the district is exploring its options. 

"If I had to make a recommendation this very minute, this very second, we would look at Chromebooks for pretty much our K-12 program," said Schmitt.

Schmitt said West Burlington's technology committee is expected to present a final recommendation on the device to use in January. The school board is also expected to vote on the recommendation at that time.

Schmitt said if the Chromebooks are purchased, they would be supplemented by laptops with higher memory and capabilities for use in more technology-driven courses.  He said the devices eventually selected would likely be purchased in the spring so they might be available to start next school year.

Schmitt said getting the right device is critical to the success of the program.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.