Levy increase would fund FliP

Voters with a history of support will go to the polls in April to decide on a proposed 32-cent operating tax levy increase for the Park Hill School district.  The levy increase would fund the Future Learners Project (FLiP) and other initiatives. Upon final roll-out, FLiP would give one-to-one daily computer access to each student in the district beyond elementary school, along with the student and staff training to take advantage of the technology. The levy would also would fund security upgrades. Last year, the district underwent a safety and security evaluation, which recommended upgrades such as the establishment of one secure entrance to the district high schools. FLiP will bring laptops to students from fifth through 12th grade and increased access to digital tools in the lower grades. A pilot program was implemented last year and the district reported students and teachers from the program reported students, teachers and parents were more engaged and excited and that classroom roles changed as students felt more ownership of their education. Standardized test scores in communication arts and math rose at a higher pace than for the rest of the student population as well. This year, all fifth graders have access to a laptop and additional technology has been added to the middle and high schools. Sixth graders will receive laptops in the 2014-15 school year, seventh and eighth graders in 2015-16 and high school students in 2016-17. District staff made the decision to start with the lower grades instead of high school students because most subjects are still taught in one classroom at the fifth grade level, according to national data. At about nine to 10 years of age the students are both young enough to be open to a new way of learning and old enough to use the technology. The program includes training for both students and staff, options for students with no internet access at home and an ongoing plan to keep current with technology and replace devices every few years.