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District explores consulting services

Kasi Sieling, a middle school science teacher in the Brandon-Evansville School District, provide a technology update at Monday night's regular school board meeting. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)

Donald Hanson believes the current Brandon and Evansville school facilities are just fine. At the monthly meeting of the Brandon-Evansville School Board Monday night, he said he was happy last fall's referendum to build a new school failed.

"These buildings do the job for us," said Hanson, an Evansville farmer. "We just need terrific instructors."

Hanson also told school board members — who are in the process of trying to figure out what to do with the school district's aging facilities — that they should look into putting an elevator in the Evansville School because elevators aren't that expensive.

School board members thanked Hanson for his concerns and comments.

Superintendent Dean Yocum explained that he, along with a couple of school board members, spoke with three different firms — JLG, Widseth Smith Nolting and ICS Managers — about consulting services for the district as it moves ahead on its facilities project. He is in the process of getting proposals from each of the firms, which he will bring to the board at a later date.

No further action was taken on facilities.

However, for the next school year, the board changed the start times for each of the buildings. This fall, the Brandon campus will start at 8:15 a.m. with the Evansville campus will start at 8:25 a.m.

The changes were made by consensus at the superintendent's request.

Technology update

Kasi Sieling, a middle school science teacher for the district, provided a technology update. She said over the course of the last four years, the district has made a significant investment in technology.

To date, it has just about as many devices, including iPads, Chromebooks, Macbooks and more, as students.

"The district had done a good job getting students access to devices," Sieling said.

It uses a variety of devices, such as iPads, Chromebooks, Macbooks and other PC computers. She provided a brief summary of how technology is used at each grade level, such as how kindergarten through third grade students use their devices for research, projects, testing and more. Students in grades 4-8 use technology for creating presentations, making movies, taking spelling tests and so much more, she said.

Sieling said high schoolers use technology similarly to the middle school students, but also use photoshop and yearbook programs to put together the yearbook. They do more in-depth video creations and design their own comic strips as well as use technology for science projects.

The lists of how technology has been integrated at each grade level was fairly long, with Sieling showing videos of some of the students' projects.

She also talked about how technology is going to be around for years and how the district wants its teachers to be more comfortable with it and wants to offer more support as needed for the teachers.

The district also wants to teach students to be responsible and safe when it comes to using technology, Sieling said, and whatever programs are used should enhance learning and be meaningful to the students and staff.

Snow day

This year, the school district built in three "snow days." Yocum explained that the district, as of now, has used two of those days. This means there is one day remaining to play with and the school board decided to change the date of the last day of school for students.

Instead of school ending on Thursday, May 31, students will be have their last day on Wednesday, May 30. Teachers will have an in-service day on May 31.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. She enjoys running and has participated in nearly 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon distances.

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