Hamburg directors hear update on Perry construction and laptop program

Although the largest part of the Perry Elementary Project is on schedule, Hamburg Area School directors learned that this year’s harsh winter is negatively impacting some areas of the project at the meeting on Feb. 24.

“A lot has to be done in a short period of time,” Philip Leinbach of AEM Architects, Inc., Reading, said.

Leinbach told school directors that 65 percent of the classroom wing is complete and that the cafeteria and multi-purpose sections are 50 and 40 percent complete, respectively.

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The project is scheduled to be completed by June 30, according to superintendent Steven Keifer.

“The biggest part of the project (classroom wing) is on schedule,” Keifer said. “The cafeteria, auditorium and library are behind schedule. However, they don’t require as much work and should be quicker to catch up on.”

Although he said that he is worried about the impact that winter has had on the project, Keifer was confident that warmer weather will help to get the project back on track.

The $20 million project is currently about $200,000 under budget.

In other news, school directors heard a report on steps taken to improve the success rate of the high school’s one-to-one laptop program.

Teresa Freiwald, instructional technology director, Than Wright, technology coordinator and Chris Spohn, high school principal addressed school directors.

Spohn told school directors that some of the biggest challenges are to improve communication and to improve classroom management of the technology.

“We need to use technology to become more efficient,” Spohn said. “(Technology) should enhance instruction, not replace it.”

Freiwald told school directors that every teacher now has an online homework calendar and that all schedules, such as, field trip lists and club attendance sheets are posted as shared documents.

At an in-service day in January teachers learned through collaboration how different departments in the high school are using the laptops.

The laptops should not be the focal point of the classroom, according to Freiwald.

“Technology is just a tool,” Freiwald said. “It should enhance good teaching.”

School directors were told that Study Island, a web-based learning resource, has shown increased usage in algebra, but not so much in biology and literature.

“It’s a way to extend the school day because it doesn’t have to be done in school.” Keifer said.

Wright informed school directors that the network has been changed to a Microsoft network operating system and called it a “huge change.”

Updated wireless controllers were installed, as well as, faster network switches in the educational wing and upgraded wireless access points have been added, Wright said.

The focus on the one-to-one program increased after Dr. Jeffrey A. Stone, instructor of information services and technology at Penn State, presented the results of a survey in July 2013 which stated that there was a lack of professional development for teachers and a poor perception of the program by students.

School directors plan to have Dr. Stone complete another survey in January 2015 to see how the current changes and upgrades have improved the program.