2015-03-06 / Community News

Groups review high school tech plan

As their peers in classrooms across the state are enveloping their classrooms in technology, teachers at Scarborough High School are still relying on traditional instructional methods.

Superintendent George Entwistle told members of the town and school finance committees that this lack of technology has impacted the school’s ability to make sure students are ready for posthigh school life. It has also changed the way teachers instruct, especially those who came from high schools with laptops in the classroom.

“There are few, if any, colleges or careers that don’t depend on technology tools,” Entwistle said before Jennifer Lim, the Scarborough’s information systems director, presented a preliminary review about providing laptops to each student in the high school. Students in grades three through eight already have individual access to laptops.

Enwistle said that he worries without access to technology in the classroom, high school students will not be able to get into the best colleges they can and be behind the curve compared to their peers in other school districts. Scarborough High School students do have access to four computer labs and teachers can sign out laptop carts when necessary, although doing so can be difficult.

Scarborough High School Principal David Creech said it is difficult for students to adjust to the lack of technology at the high school, especially given laptops are provided to students at Wentworth School and Scarborough Middle School.

“It is not so much about the device,” Creech said. “There is significant and essential learning because of the device that no longer is able to be offered because every student in the classroom doesn’t have access to the technology.”

In music classes, Creech said, students can use technology to hear how music is supposed to be played and how pieces they are composing sound. In a foreign language class, students can use technology to hear language from native speakers instead of relying on a textbook. Term papers, he said, can become more dynamic with video, pictures, maps and sound clips.

Board of Education Finance Committee Chairman Chris Caiazzo said laptops are intended to be “not just an Internet search tool,” but “an integral part of instruction.”

Scarborough and Brunswick are the only two high schools in Cumberland County without laptop access.

Lim is looking into four options, including the HP Probook 440, the laptop currently provided to intermediate and middle school students; the HP 210 GI, a touch-screen and highly portable device; the Lenvo Thinkpad, a similar option without touch-screen capabilities, and the Samsung Chromebook. The HP 210 GI is the only option that meets all the requirements, but with a $2.1 million cost over the next six years, is also the most expensive. The Chromebook, at $1.58 million, is the least expensive

Town Council Finance Committee members William Donovan and Peter Hayes said they don’t doubt laptops are needed, and necessary at the high school, but would like to see documented proof that Scarborough High School students are missing out by not having them.

Lim is expected to present her proposal at a Board of Education workshop session Thursday, March 19. The proposal will be presented to Town Council Wednesday, April 1.

Return to top