Blue Earth buys 90 Chromebooks

BLUE EARTH – Blue Earth Area Schools has approved buying 90 Chromebooks.

Superintendent Evan Gough said the purchase will give the district four sets of Chromebooks, one in each building.

According to Wikipedia:?A Chromebook is a personal computer running Google Chrome OS as its operating system. The devices are designed to be used while connected to the Internet and support applications that reside on the Web, rather than traditional PC applications such as Microsoft Office and Photoshop that reside on the machine itself.

Other capital purchases approved by the school board Monday include a voicemail system at the high school; tiling for the east ball diamond on the high school campus; maintenance for the boiler pipes in the Winnebago elementary; window repairs at the Winnebago elementary and district office; repairs to the high school parking lot; and new classroom locks at the Blue Earth elementary.

The board approved $336,469 for equipment and expenditures, and $86,000 for deferred maintenance.

On another topic, Gough announced there will be a public meeting 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Performing Arts Center to inform parents about the proposal to move eighth-graders to the high school in the fall of 2014.

Gough announced the district enrollment projections for K-12 are at 1,232, up six from current enrollment.

The youngest grades seem to be growing. Kindergarten is projecting 100 students – assuming all the current ones advance to first grade, Gough said. First grade is projecting 115.

Third grade is projected to have 77 students on the Blue Earth campus, meaning three sections would have 26, 26 and 25 students. Gough is considering adding a fourth section to spread out those numbers a bit.

In other business, school nurse Sharon Hoyt updated the board on the District Wellness Policy.

“Things are going quite well,” Hoyt said.

The district received three grants from the Statewide Health Improvement Program “that we’ve been able to do some great things with,” she said.

The Active Transportation grant is a community- and school-based grant designed to promote safe ways to get kids back and forth to school.

The Active Classroom grant allowed the district to purchase curriculum for physical education. During regular classes, it gives students the opportunity to do one to two minutes of movement instead of sitting at their desks for prolonged periods.

“It doesn’t take a lot of time out of their day,” Hoyt said. “One to two minutes increases blood volume to the brain by doubling it.”

That makes a difference in tests, she added.

Worksite Wellness is another grant.

“Our wellness policy in the past deals with students, this is staff,” Hoyt said. It promotes healthy options and physical activity.

School board member Terry Cahill, a doctor, pointed out the wellness policy mentions “sugared beverages” frequently.

“Sugar is not the enemy, volume of sugar is,” Cahill said.

He added that if you put a teaspoon of sugar in a cup of coffee, it’s a “sugared beverage.”

Cahill suggested working on the wording of the policy.

“Let’s be precise,” Cahill said. “Carbonated beverages should be avoided, due to bone health.”

School board member Mary Eckhardt asked about students sitting on balls instead of chairs to work their muscles better.

“There are some classrooms that have the balls,” Hoyt noted.

Some students are even allowed to stand up during class.

“That is another thing they are finding, not everyone can learn sitting,” Hoyt said.

K-8 Principal Melissa McGuire said bubble seats – pads with raised centers – are also used.

“It’s a work in progress,” Bly said.