02/11/13 A series of Classroom Innovations technology grants awarded to the Plymouth Schools has made it possible for not only the purchase of computers, but training for staff as well. Assistant Superintendent Dan Funston reviewed the grants with the Plymouth School Board on February 5. Funston said a total of $421,000 was received from competitive grants since 2010. Each year, Plymouth has had to compete with over 180 other applicants to be awarded grants. In 2010, they were only 1/7 corporations to receive the award and only 1/20 in 2011.

Also presenting the grant information was Janice Curtis, technology curriculum director. Funston said 20 percent of awards have been used for digital curriculum. Curtis said an additional 20 percent was used for the purchase of hardware- 75-80 MacBooks and some servers. Curtis said 50 percent of the total has been used for professional development and 10 percent was set aside for teacher stipends.

In 2010, the school corporation received a Classroom Innovations Math Grant for $90,000. In 2011 and 2012, they received Classroom Innovations grants for $200,000 and $100,000 respectively. In both 2012 and 2013, they were awarded Classroom Innovations Conference Grants of $15,000 and $16,000 respectively. The grant monies have made it possible to have some classroom lectures delivered on demand and online so students can review as necessary. In the 2012-13 school years, 7th grade Social Studies was offered as a blended and online learning class. In the 2013-2014 school year, the 8th grade Social Studies will be added. Blended and online classes offered at Plymouth High School include Accounting, Algebra I, Economics, English 12, Geometry, and Spanish 4. Curtis said the online classes can be downloaded on YouTube so students do not have to have internet connections at home to be able to access the work.

After the meeting, Funston said, “The grants are going to be few and far between the future due to a shift in priorities at the state level.”

Funston was chosen by the Department of Education to participate in an E-Learning Leadership Cadre with ten other educators from around the state. They will concentrate on visual learning.

Carol Anders Correspondent