Call to Order and Roll Call
The5th meeting of the Task Force on Student Access to Technology was held on Tuesday, November 27, 2012, at 10:00 a.m., in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Carl Rollins II, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Katie Stine, Co-Chair; Representative Carl Rollins II, Co-Chair; Senators Jared Carpenter, David Givens, Dennis Parrett, and Mike Wilson; Representatives John "Bam" Carney, and Derrick Graham.
Guests: Tim Bobrowski, Superintendent, Owsley County Schools; Paul Green, Chief Academic Officer and Director of Pupil Personnel, Owsley County Schools; and Tina Bobrowski, Owsley County High School Media Specialist and Spanish Instructor, Owsley County Schools.
Guest List: Clyde Caudill, Jefferson County Public Schools, KASA and Marty White, CLC.
Approval of Minutes
Senator Wilson moved to approve the minutes of the October 22, 2012 meeting, and Representative Carney seconded the motion. The motion carried.
Snow Bound Pilot Project and Innovative Learning Opportunities
The Snow Bound Pilot initiative was brought about by legislative changes. Owsley County is one of the poorest counties in Kentucky. Owsley County schools miss 20 days of school per year, on average. The Owsley County school district is a small district of less than 800 students. The district lacks personnel and resources to compete with course offerings of those larger surrounding districts, therefore, resulting in low performing test scores.
When looking at the state and the districts that surround Owsley County, the average number of days missed due to inclement weather is 23.27, indicating that it is not just Owsley County that is affected by weather cancellations.
Census data from 2010 reveals that of the county’s population aged 25 and older, 22 percent has less than a ninth grade education. The percentage with a high school degree hovers near half at 57.7 percent. Only 2.9 percent of the same population has a graduate or professional degree. Of the total estimated population of 4,671, 41.5 percent live below poverty level. A report published in February of 2012 by the NY Times entitled The Geography of Government Benefits indicates that 53.07 percent of the county’s total individual income is the result of government assistance.
Mr. Bobrowski explained that the infrastructure contributes to a lot of the county’s issues. Highway 30 is the only state primary road, and Highway 28 and Highway 11 are the county’s secondary roadways.
Mr. Bobrowski referred to HB 427 that stated “… school districts that have missed an average of 20 or more days in the previous three years can use alternative methods of instruction, including virtual learning, on days when the school district is closed for health or safety reasons, on nontraditional time…” Kentucky school districts can overcome barriers to learning created by unscheduled school closures by utilizing the technology infrastructure, software, and hardware to promote learning for students when school is not in session.
Mr. Bobrowski stated that one of the positive aspects that Owsley County has is that a wide percentage of its community has access to the internet. This is a great platform opportunity for the teachers to reach their students on days when they are not able to be physically in class.
Paul Green, Chief Academic Officer and Director of Pupil Personnel, explained that the snow pilot project program with Owsley County began as a hybrid program. Owsley County used parent, teacher, and students’ surveys as their feedback for this program. The district conducted a pre-test/post-test model in which students were pre-tested, given at-home lessons, and then post-tested. The district wanted statistical data to show the effectiveness of the Snow Bound Pilot program. This testing showed that learning was taking place, the lessons were structured, and new material was being taught. There have been some minor issues with the pilot program, but the district is trying to streamline with a true focus on reading and math that is cross-curriculum. This would eliminate the need to do the pilot program for all the classes separately.
Owsley County is looking to partner with colleges and universities and other school districts to expand course offerings. The technology allows the students to take courses and classes that would not be able to be offered at Owsley County otherwise. Owsley County is also sharing two dual credit college courses. The district is trying to break down the barriers that students in Owsley County face due to weather, financial resources, and the small district size.
Owsley County wants to be a school of innovation and offer the 24/7 model. Mr. Green said that Owsley County wants to expand education to reach outside of the school building and school hours. Many teachers’ record or videotape their lectures to help a student who is unable to attend school or who wants to take a course that is being offered at another partner school.
Superintendent Bobrowski said that he is impressed with how the morale of the students in Owsley County has improved since the struggles and barriers that had previously held the district back have been overcome.
Tina Bobrowski, Owsley County High School Media Specialist and Spanish Instructor, explained that students are responding well to the program because help is right at their fingertips, whether they are at school or at home. For example, in their Spanish class, students can click on an audioclip to hear how the word should be pronounced properly. She is also able to listen to the students and their pronunciation and correct them, if needed, in real time.
Mrs. Bobrowski has a library of online e-books that her students can access at anytime. The students and teachers are able to post books they are reading or have read and discuss with other students. The students can check-out books and read them online without having to physically go to the library.
Mrs. Bobrowski uses Jing, a video capture software that allows teachers to capture anything they see on the computer screen, as an image or short video, and share it instantly. The teachers use this on their blackboards for instructional teaching.
Mr. Bobrowski said that creating equal access to courses is critically important in the effort to raise test scores, especially in Owsley County. It is imperative that the district continues to fund this project to provide other resources to help the Owsley County students.
In response to a question from Chairman Rollins regarding the percentage of students with computer access at home, Mr. Bobrowski explained that those students that fall within the 15 percent category of not having internet access at home can use the surplus computers from school that have been updated. Mr. Green added that Owsley County has created partnerships within the community so that the student population that does not have access at home are able to have access elsewhere, even on days that school is not in.
Responding to Senator Stine’s question regarding partnerships with libraries for access to e-books, Mrs. Bobrowski stated that Owsley County did not have that type of partnership at this time but they are considering that as an option.
In response to Senator Wilson, Mr. Bobrowski explained that the partnering districts work together to meet the needs of each school if a teacher is not available in a particular district. For example, Madison County had a few teachers that were willing to prepare lessons for the use of surrounding counties. This is a great opportunity when a district is unable to hire a specific teacher.
Chairman Rollins introduced a guest, Senator Stivers, who commented on the progress of Owsley County and was impressed at the district’s innovation to meet students’ needs.
Responding to Representative Carney’s concerns over homebound versus snowbound, Mr. Bobrowski explained that the district’s main concern is not letting students fall behind, while keeping the burden of the cost of this project to a minimum. He wants to focus on what is the most efficient way to provide services to students without having to eliminate anything.
Representative Carney suggested the possibility of a virtual curriculum that districts could refer to and use as a resource for additional instructional purposes. Mr. Bobrowski said this was an idea that had been discussed but that the district needed more than the online support. The district would need the facilitators as well.
Responding to Senator Givens, Mr. Bobrowski explained how the district quantifies a school day for the snow bound project. Each class period was asked to provide assignments that would be equivalent to their class time. These are the lessons that would be used on the days students were not in class because of weather.
Responding to Senator Parrett regarding the snow bound project and recommendations to make it work better, Mr. Bobrowski explained that funding is an issue that affects the district tremendously.
Responding to Senator Carpenter’s compliments on the innovations on this project, Mr. Bobrowski said that there have been several districts that are willing to work together to make this possible.
Senator Stivers made several comments regarding federally funded roads and payments that could potentially help lessen the amount of days missed.
Responding to Representative Graham regarding home schooling, Mr. Bobrowski said that in Owsley County there are several home schooled students. He said those students would benefit more from participating in the public school system. Owsley County is above the state’s average in regards to the drop-out rate.
Task Force Report and Recommendations
Chairman Rollins advised the members to look over the draft recommendations and suggest any changes.
Representative Carney suggested a recommendation be drafted to address school funding for non-traditional learning.
Senator Wilson suggested that on pages 8 and 9, last 3 bullets points, “should” might need to be changed to “could” due to discussion regarding the wording of recommendations for the middle school athletics task force. A motion was made by Senator Carpenter and seconded by Senator Parrett. The motion carried.
Staff said they would draft a recommendation per Representative Carney’s suggestion and confirm the appropriate wording to address Senator Wilson’s concern.
Representative Rollins moved to approve the report and authorize the chairs to work with staff to incorporate any additional information that might be needed to finalize the report and conform to LRC requirements. The motion was seconded by Senator Parrett. The motion carried.
With no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:45 a.m.