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Wednesday, September 05, 2018 1:00 am

State audit classifies EACS as tech leader

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

East Allen County Schools' efforts to pair every student with a computing device makes the district a statewide leader, a recent technology audit found.

The review, which was conducted by consultants last spring, also offered suggestions for improvement.

Technology director Keith Madsen and Teresa Knoblauch, assistant superintendent of elementary education, shared the results with the school board Tuesday.

The results weren't surprising, Knoblauch said, but they appreciated having outsiders review East Allen's situation with an objective lens.

The consultants – two retired superintendents – called East Allen a leader in the 1:1 technology initiative because it is one of 156 Indiana districts providing devices for students at all grade levels, according to the audit's executive summary. That represents about 41 percent of districts that completed an annual technology survey.

East Allen has had 1:1 technology for six years, Madsen said.

The district's use of digital textbooks also put it ahead of others. On average, fully 1:1 schools report 62 percent of their content is digital. East Allen is at 95 percent, with physical textbooks accounting for the remainder, according to the audit.

The consultants offered eight items to consider. Suggestions include develop a professional learning plan for technology; establish a plan measuring the effect of technology use on student learning; and strengthen communication within the technology department and between it and the district.

To start, East Allen will focus on four, including one about restructuring and cross training staff. This process should help the district determine whether more personnel are needed, Knoblauch said.

In other business, the board considered a memorandum of understanding with Heartland Sings for a program at Southwick Elementary School this academic year. No action was taken on the discussion-only item.

Four first-grade classes will benefit from the Arts Integrated Residency, which includes 30-minute lessons twice a week by Heartland Sings teachers trained in language arts standards. The program, now in its second year at Southwick, will culminate with an opera in May.

“It was amazing,” Superintendent Marilyn Hissong said of last year's performance.

Board members are invited to sit in on a lesson, Knoblauch said.

“It's a lot of fun,” she said.

Also Tuesday, board members honored former board member Leland Etzler with a moment of silence. Etzler, who also coached football at Woodlan for decades, died Sunday at age 78.

He will be sorely missed, they said. Vice President Tim Hines said the world could use more people like Etzler.

“Leland always said and did the right things,” he said.

asloboda@jg.net