Students wont have to make up missed days

pseligson@newsobserver.comMarch 18, 2014 

Johnston County students won’t have to make up the two most-recent days lost to snow and ice

At its meeting last week, the Johnston County Board of Education decided to forgive Feb. 14 and March 4, which students lost to bad weather.

For Johnston’s elementary and middle schools, the 2013-14 calendar had enough hours built into it to lose those two days and still meet state requirements for the length of the school year. The requirement for high school students is different, but the state board of education recently waived that requirement, meaning Johnston County could give all students a pass.

Because of the weather, Johnston students had already missed the following days of school: Jan. 29-31 and Feb. 11-13. Students at Early College and Middle College had missed an extra day, Jan. 28. Those students lost most of their spring break, but students on the traditional and year-round calendars lost only Easter Monday, though the school year will end a little later than originally planned.

Bring Your Own Device

The school board heard an update on a new policy, “Bring Your Own Device,” which allows students to connect their personal electronics to school wifi networks. The focus is on using the electronics for learning in the classroom, said Fran Riddick, assistant superintendent for instructional support and development.

Teachers and other staff members have been able to bring their personal electronics to school since 2012. The school board opened the door for students in September. Since then, three schools have been test sites for the policy: West Clayton Elementary, Clayton Middle and Clayton High schools.

Now, any school can allow its students to log on.

Riddick said she’s heard positive feedback. “The students are much more engaged, and they’re taking greater responsibility for their own learning,” she said. “Their research is richer, and their learning is more in depth.”

When students bring an electronic device to school, whether it’s an iPad, Chromebook or a parent’s old Blackberry, they can connect to their school’s guest network. Riddick said her staff is still adding one more feature: a way for schools to be able to monitor how students are using wifi access. This will show what websites they’re visiting, if they’re sending email, etc.

Riddick said allowing wifi access in classrooms will be up to teachers. “It takes a huge pedagogical shift,” she said. “It’s a mindset. It’s a different way of instruction, and teachers and parents all need to be prepared for that shift.”

Other business

The school board chose the same architect for a new middle school in North Johnston, a new gym at Princeton High School and a 12-classroom addition at River Dell Elementary School. Hite & Associates, which designed River Dell, won the contracts in a competitive bidding process.

Seligson: 919-836-5768

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