Catoosa school bond issue to further district's One to One initiative, provide laptops for students

It's been four years since Jason Louvier last used his classroom chalkboard. And during that same time, he says the use of the textbook has been "very minimal."

"Almost all the lessons are done on the computer and come from the computer."

Since 2007, Catoosa Public Schools has been working toward One to One learning – a program through Apple, which provides a MacBook laptop for each student in 6th through 12th grade.

"It's an equalizer for a lot of these kids," Louvier said. "This is not a wealthy school in a wealthy district … but the One to One initiative does give the fortunate and the less fortunate children access to the same technology which is going to level the playing field a little bit."

Last week, Catoosa Public Schools passed a $21.16 million bond issue – the largest in district history

RELATED: Catoosa Public Schools' $21.16M bond issue passes, to fund technology, building improvements ( http://bit.ly/catoosabond)

"This bond issue is a continuation of what we began in '07-'08," said CPS superintendent Rick Kibbe. "'07-'08 was our first bind issue, and it began the One to One program implementation of computers in the classrooms, as well as SMART boards."

A subsequent bond election in 2010 extended the technology to the high school. The latest bond issue is the third phase of the program will add additional computers and wireless Internet connection at the elementary school sites.

"Our community chose to come together and form a partnership with the school district and reach out for their future and be better. And as a result of that we began the idea of One to One, each student having a laptop and every teacher having a SMART board and become more digitally ready in 21st century learning.

Donna Miller, a sixth grade teacher at Wells Middle School, admitted after 23 years of teaching, she was hesitant to set aside her overhead projector and learn to use a SMART board for the first time.

"I was in tears… As soon I learned to embrace the technology and start using it and making it a part of my classroom it was amazing. We've done all kinds of projects."

Monday, Millers class was viewing iMovie projects of toothpick bridges each student had built.

"Our learning has exploded and my learning has exploded," Miller said.  

Students in seventh grade and higher take their computers home each night, while sixth grades keep theirs in mobile labs at the school. Teachers say it has taken time, but students now prefer the laptops over any other method of learning.

"They're a technological generation," Louvier said. "They know they how to use them and they like to use them."

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