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150 gifted middle school students to get laptops

Posted on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 3:08 pm

MILFORD – One hundred and fifty Caroline Middle School students will be provided free laptop computers as part of their participation in a special program for gifted and high achieving students.

The students, 50 from each grade level, will receive the laptops as part of a new program dubbed All Children Excelling (ACE) to be implemented in the 2013-14 school year. The computers are being made available by OdysseyWare, an Arizona company that provides online curriculum and technology for schools.

Caroline County Public Schools already has been using the online educational program, which has been approved by the state Department of Education, at Caroline High School and the school division’s Diversified Learning Center.

The company offered free laptops for middle school students to use with the program with the purchase of student licenses for the OdysseyWare program. Additionally, the company reduced the license fee for three years, and the fourth year will be free.

Parents and students were briefed on the program earlier this month. Students will have to apply for the program, which will be facilitated by a teacher from each of the four core content areas.

“It’s going to be phenomenal,” Cathy McConnell, the school division’s director of educational programs, told the School Board at its regular June 10 meeting. She described it as a “school within a school” program and said the initiative has been two years in the making.

The middle school parents were “very excited” to learn about the opportunity at an informational meeting earlier this month, principal Angela Wright told the panel.

The School Board also was briefed on changes to the Diversified Learning Center that will be put into effect in the coming school year. The center will be moved from its current location at the old Ladysmith Elementary School to Bowling Green Elementary School, which is being consolidated because of the expansion and renovation of Bowling Green Primary School. In addition, the center will focus on students who are diverted for disciplinary reasons.

Under the changes, the center will serve 25-30 students from Caroline High School and Caroline Middle School who are under long term suspension or those who have been recommended for expulsion and placed in the program by the School Board. It will be staffed by three teachers or other employees and one clerical staffer.

Students who were assigned to the center for academic reasons will be returned to their regular schools.

In other action the School Board:

• Approved policy changes recommended by the Virginia School Boards Association related to student fees and suspension and expulsion.

• Approved changes to the 2013-14 school calendar.

• Agreed to absorb an increase in dual enrollment fees being charged by Germanna Community College in the coming school year. The college’s charge per credit is increasing from $117 to $122.50 per credit; Caroline students will continue to pay $45. (The school division is reimbursed with state funds for 80 percent of the tuition for dual enrollment courses taught at Caroline High School.)

• Approved a payment of $470,525 to Loughridge & Co., the general contractor for the Bowling Green Primary School project, except it withheld $50,000 because of the unsatisfactory condition of a portion of new specialty concrete flooring in the building. School officials are seeking to resolve the issue with the contractor.

• Approved an agreement with the Caroline Family YMCA to provide child care services.

• Approved renewing property and casualty insurance.

• Approved food service contracts.

• Approved a final payment to Calico Industries for kitchen and cafeteria equipment for Bowling Green Primary School.

• Approved applications for funding for federal programs.

• Gave preliminary approval to procedures to evaluate performance of principals, teachers, and support personnel and a student code of conduct.

• Received information on school wellness plans, a new recycling program, proposed changes to student and professional staff dress code or guidelines, and student enrollment.