DARLINGTON, S.C. – A regular meeting of the Darlington County Board of Education on Monday focused largely on technology.
Diane Sigmon, executive director of technology for the Darlington County School District, and other technology staff gave the board an overview of the recent 2019 ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Conference & Expo in Philadelphia, attended by members of a DCSD technology team.
The event was an opportunity for district staff to present on an international stage the work the district is doing in integrating technology into its educational program through multiple presentations, Sigmon said.
“It put us on the map,” she said.
This was the second consecutive year the district has presented at the conference, she said.
The conference was attended by more than 20,000 educators and technology specialists from all 50 states and 81 countries, according to district officials.
“It gave us an opportunity to present examples of some of the different things we are doing to build capacity for the application of technology in the classroom,” Sigmon said.
She said the conference also afforded an opportunity for district staff to validate what the district is doing and to learn from other school districts and educational institutions across the nation and around the world about how they are using technology to advance education.
Sigmon said the district was held up as an example for other districts implementing and integrating technology into learning.
“It’s been an exciting journey, and we’ve been fortunate enough to share it on an international stage,” she said.
On another matter related to technology, the board approved a new student-parent handbook and eLearning plan that includes options for virtual makeup of missed school days for situations such as for inclement weather.
Many of the components of the handbook are already written into district policy, Sigmon said. “We thought it was prudent to put it into a handbook for students and parents,” she said.
But eLearning to make up missed days will be new for the district, if it is approved by the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee (EOC). The district has already applied for the state approval of the plan, Sigmon said.
Five other school districts in South Carolina use eLearning as a means of making up missed days, said Superintendent of Education Tim Newman. Last year was the first year eLearning was used for making up days, Newman said.
Darlington County already has the components in place to use eLearning for making up missed days, Sigmon said.
Using eLearning to make up days provides a viable alternative to going through the district calendar to find days to make up days lost to bad weather, often extending the school year into the summer, Newman said.
The new handbook also includes a provision for providing insurance for damage to laptop computers used by district high school students. Currently, high school students are allowed to take their laptops home. That will continue. Students will pay a $50 per year fee for insurance coverage for accidental damage to laptops.
Students in grades three through eight use iPads and will pay a fee of $20 a year for damage coverage. The fee does not include stolen devices.
The handbook lays out guidelines for etiquette and responsibilities of students in the use of take-home electronic devices and provides useful information for parents as well, Sigmon said.
“It will help parents learn how to manage and monitor their children’s use of the devices at home,” she said. “This is something the parents asked for.”