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PES adds tech fee

PRINCETON — It's been at least 20 years since Princeton Elementary School District has raised its book fees, paid at the beginning of each school year. But at this week's PES Board meeting, the board decided to tack on a technology fee for all students, which will result in upper elementary students having their own one-on-one technology device.

PES Superintendent Tim Smith explained the multi-year recommendation, driven primarily by the district's technology committee.

• Beginning in the upcoming school year (2013-14), each student — kindergarten through eighth grade — will be required to pay a $50 tech fee.

• In 2014-15 school year, kindergarten through fifth-grade students, plus the seventh- and eighth-graders will still pay the $50 tech fee. Sixth-graders will pay a $100 fee and be given their own one-on-one, personal technology device.

• In 2015-16, kindergarten through fifth grade, plus the eighth-graders, will continue to pay the $50 tech fee. The sixth- and seventh-graders will pay $100, which includes that personal device.

• The 2016-17 school year will see kindergarten through fifth grade pay the $50 fee, with sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders paying $100. The program will continue at these rates henceforth.

Smith said at the end of the students' eighth-grade year, the students will be able to keep their own one-on-one personal device. Smith likened that device to an iPad. Dubbed a Chrome Book, Smith said the Google device meets the needs of the students' curriculum, including Internet and the ability to download apps. Smith also said those students who are eligible for fee waivers would still be issued their own personal device.

The board approved the technology fee increase. Board member Doris Hamilton was absent from the meeting.

In other business, the board:

• Conducted a hearing to amend the district's health life safety plan for work in the bus loading/unloading area at Logan Junior High.

• Set a special meeting for 5 p.m. June 24 (two hours before the regular meeting at 7 p.m.) to hear from the DLR Group of Chicago, an architectural firm the board hired to evaluate the district's needs assessment.

• Noted the teacher retirement open house is from 4 to 6 p.m. May 28 at Logan West, and the staff institute, breakfast and service awards are at 8 a.m. May 30.

• Heard first readings on recommended changes to board policies, including specific language in background checks for employees and student teachers, and the prohibition of any school employee smoking during any school event — whether that employee is on school grounds or at a school event out of town.

• Heard Logan Principal J.D. Orwig talk about student handbook changes, which he described as minimal. Of those changes, the district will subscribe to an academic-based detention system which is geared to help students remedy their academic issues.

• Retained Hopkins & Associates of Princeton as the district's auditor at $10,200 for the 2013-14 school year and Zukowski Law Offices of Peru as the district's legal counsel for a monthly $50 retainer and an average of $190 an hour.

• Granted Nicole Nyman an eight-week maternity leave at the beginning of the 2013 school year and hired Lisa Bettner as board secretary to replace Sandie Hall; Samantha Farb as the band/choral director for a one-year period; Larissa Bickett as assistant track coach, seventh-grade girls basketball coach and girls basketball athletic director; Scott Vrana as seventh-grade boys basketball coach and seventh-grade boys B team basketball coach; and Spencer Davis as eighth-grade girls basketball coach.

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