Grants help SCS move towards 1:1 with devices

SIDNEY – Sidney City Schools, with the supportive planning of its technology partner, Vartek, has managed to leverage grant money to increase the number of individual learning devices within the district, pushing the district forward on the path to being 1:1, devices to students.

“Through different grants we have been awarded, our district has managed to prioritize the purchase of technology to address the old, nearing end-of-life status of what we currently have,”said Brooke Gessler, director of Curriculum.

Despite the ongoing challenges related to COVID-19, Sidney City Schools has found opportunities to develop new processes and procedures to improve workflow, increase communication with students and their families, and introduce new technology into the district to improve digital learning for both students and staff. The latter opportunity is one that perhaps stands to have the strongest and most lasting impact on the district as we move into future years.

With grant funds procured through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund and Broadband Ohio Connectivity, the district was able to purchase 955 Chromebook computers, 255 of which are LTE enabled and do not require internet/WiFi connectivity.

At the Dec. 15, 2020 school board meeting, the board will look to approve the purchase of active panels to replace SMART technology that is nearing or has met end-of-life, again using these same grant funds, to enhance learning in the classroom as well as remote learning. With these grants, the district was also able to address additional safety measures related to COVID-19 with the purchase of masks and sanitation supplies.

This is substantial, as it allows Sidney City Schools to move more quickly into a 1:1 ratio of devices to students without touching operational funds. This added inventory will afford Sidney High School students their own tagged device, which opens so many instructional doors for our teachers. And, while the high school will lead the district’s 1:1 initiative in our district, it will be shortly followed by the middle school and then the intermediate and primary schools in the years to come.

Vartek Academic Technology Coordinator with Sidney City Schools Dr. Kat Childers noted the advantages of the district moving toward a 1:1 ratio of devices to students.

“This is an exciting time for the district. As we transition the high school to 1:1, allowing students to take devices home, we enhance the educational experience for all learners,” said Childers. “The additional devices allow greater accessibility to technology while preparing students for an ever-changing world. We look forward to the new opportunities this technology will provide to our students and teachers and feel fortunate for the grant funding that is changing education at Sidney City Schools.”

After the first of the year and upon completion of the device agreement within Final Forms, Sidney High School students will be assigned a computer. With the help of Vartek, Sidney City Schools is on track to continue to implement the use of devices in daily instruction and phase in efforts of being 1:1 at all schools.

Gessler added, “We could not be more excited to embark on this new journey of innovation and instructional design, especially amid all the disruptions and uncertainty of this pandemic.”

Sidney City Schools contracts with Vartek Services Inc. for technology services throughout the district. Vartek is a strategic partner to school districts, delivering tailored, innovative technology and integration support so that educators are empowered to create the learning environment they envision.