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Public hearing to be held on tech purchases

Less than a month ago, Newton Community School District Technology Director Chris Beighler presented the board of education with the district’s comprehensive tech plan, and he indicated on Monday he was ready to move forward with some of those plans.

The board approved holding a public hearing at 6:45 p.m. during the Monday, June 23, meeting. Beighler indicated the district wanted to purchase desktop computers, iPads and Chromebooks for various buildings.

District Business Manager Gayle Isaac estimated it would be around $171,000 in total cost, and that the items would be purchased in the 2014-2015 fiscal year using Physical Plant and Equipment Levy funds.

“We are going to do a bid for 90 desktop computers,” Beighler said.

Beighler said those computers would be used to replace computer labs at three schools in the district. Thirty of those would go to Aurora Heights Elementary School to replace its current lab setup, and Beighler added the computers in that lab are among the oldest in the district.

Computer labs at Newton Senior High School and Berg Middle School would also be replaced with the remaining 60 desktops.

“Those are the three bigger purchases, we have some Chromebook labs that are going to be purchased for Woodrow Wilson,” Beighler said. “That’s two labs of 30 and we’re slowly trying to catch up with the table we put in the technology plan. I think we wanted to try to do three labs, but with the amount of dollars we have, we are only going to be able to do two.”

When Beighler previously presented the tech plan to the board, BMS was still deciding which direction it wanted to go with technology. At this meeting, Beighler gave the board a clearer indication of what that building wanted to do with technology.

“At the middle school, we are going to purchase four Chromebook labs —quantity of 30 (per lab),” Beighler said. “We are trying to get that going in terms of more devices at the middle school level.”

At Thomas Jefferson and Berg elementary schools, Beighler said they want to get 30 iPads for each school.

“We’re trying to meet the needs of what the building principals identified and they wanted more classroom sets — so, four or five per room. So, I think right now, there are two to a room and this will allow us to sprinkle in and try to get some more devices this summer,” Beighler said.

In other business:

• Superintendent Bob Callaghan said the land the district is negotiating to lease to AT&T, for a new cell phone tower, is free of any legal caveats or holds.

• Callaghan received approval for a two-percent raise starting next year, which was the same amount the district’s other administrators received this year. His total salary last year was $164,728.

• The board agreed to complete its written evaluation for Callaghan after the June 23 meeting. His oral evaluation was delivered in closed session at the May 28 meeting.

• A preliminary board meeting schedule was approved for SY 15.

• The district is researching creating an outdoor classroom for the FFA program at NHS and on doing a remodel of the Frank Gilson Pressbox at H.A. Lynn Stadium.

• An action item to discuss the board considering a purchase and or sale of district property was tabled after nearly an hour of closed session discussion.

Senior staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at

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