The March 19 Kingsland School Board of Directors' learned more about the benefits of students using netbooks and iPads along with school curriculum.

Kingsland Superintendent John McDonald shared a short presentation on the use of iPads and netbooks in the schools, a matter the board has been reviewing for the past several months. He showed the board and audience a video he'd made using an iPad, pointing out that the touch screen capabilities would be well-suited to elementary students' needs.

McDonald added, "It has countless uses and is very engaging to younger students. We're looking at going with these new iPads, and for grades third through sixth, that purchase would be a total of $500 each for 200 students, or $100,000.

The superintendent shared that the district would have a three-year lease, and at the end of it, would have the option to buy each one for $1.

"Every student here in grades three through six could be a digital learner," McDonald said.

The board took no action on the matter, but will continue examining the benefits of equipping students with technological devices.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, parent of a basketball player Steve Swanson spoke about his hope that the board might replace the current boys basketball coaching staff.

"I'm concerned about the boys' basketball program. I ask the board to open up the head coaching position for the coming season. There are many young students working hard for an opportunity, and I feel that has been lost. I believe the current coaching staff has shown a lack of leadership - there are players who feel overlooked and there are certain players given preferential treatment," noted Swanson.

"Also, I don't feel the current coaching staff has the ability to provide injury care. The team has had kids quit because they weren't recognized. The coaching staff has to recognize everybody and bring them up."

Kingsland Business Manager Kathy Beevers gave the monthly expenditure and treasurer's report, noting that "the state forecast is looking better," resulting in less state aid money owed to the district being withheld by the state.

"We're preparing for the next budget, and we need to have it approved by June 1," she noted, outlining the current expenditures.

Next, Kingsland Principal James Hecimovich gave his report. "Mr. Rohne is working to remove conflicts from the master schedule, and we're also moving in on new science curriculum."

Hecimovich added, "We also have great, exciting news - Frank Donovan, who is originally from Spring Valley, requested specifically that students from Kingsland spend a full day as part of the 'Open Doors to Justice' program."

Twenty-two students will spend a full day in St. Paul in a courtroom on April 26 - first, there'll be a team here to role play and practice with them - and then they'll explore careers in justice. It's a great opportunity. I think it's fabulous."

Following Hecimovich's update, Kingsland Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Jake Dodge related that more than 100 students had exhibits at the middle school science fair. He also congratulated the boys basketball team on "a great season," adding that the seventh grade baseball team is still "short one coach" as the season winds up.

Dodge added, "The spring play auditions were held today, and we had 22 students audition. The play will be held Friday through Sunday, April 27 to April 29."

Superintendent McDonald took his turn next, citing that the increase in state aid contributions "is good news," as the 40-60 shift has become, essentially, a percentage in the district's favor as the state is able to partially fulfill its commitment to the school districts more readily than it was able to do a year ago. He has attended legislative conferences at which school districts have asked legislators to "provide adequate and equitable funding, reduce the amount of mandated testing, stop unfunded mandates, and restore local control of schools."

"We hope the message was heard well and the legislative body reacts positively," he commented.

Lunch was on McDonald's agenda - experimental changes are being made during the months of April and May. "We're trying new things in food service, such as a soup, salad bar and sandwich option. It would replace the a la carte with options that all cost the same as regular lunch. I feel it gives students healthier choices," he added.

The district will continue participation in SEMLAC, the professional development and learning consortium formed after the flexible learning year (FLY) calendar failed to be ratified among a collection of districts last year.

McDonald noted, "It's a three-year commitment. There are seven charter schools, and other schools may join next year. We do pay a fee, but that goes a long way at $8 per student for 640 students."

He pointed out that collaborative teaching efforts may evolve in subject communities, such as teachers sharing science curriculum, projects and presentations.

In personnel matters, the board accepted first grade teacher Kathy Moeller's retirement and hired Al Williams as B squad softball coach and Steve Tammel as junior high softball coach. Tim Chappell was hired as the spring play director, Sharon Rasmusson as summer indoor maintenance custodian, Leroy Rowe as summer grounds maintenance custodian, and Larry Gondert as summer general maintenance custodian. Board members voted, by resolution, to terminate and not renew the teaching contract of probationary science teacher Dan Pryor.

Lastly, McDonald expressed the board's appreciation to Swiss Valley Farms for its $500 donation toward the robotics team's venture into competition, Karen Sample for volunteering to work in the food service program, and Chuck Amunrud for delivering pop tabs to Ronald McDonald House.

The next meeting of the Kingsland School Board of Directors is scheduled for Monday, April 16, at 7 p.m. in the Kingsland High School conference room. The public is welcome to attend. For more information, contact the Kingsland district office at 507-346-7276, or log onto the Kingsland website at www.kingsland.k12.mn.us.