Willmar schools experienced first-day problems with iPads, improvements made
WILLMAR -- The first day of school at Willmar Senior School was a little rocky this year, as 1,200 students all turned on their Apple iPad tablet computers at once.
Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard told the Willmar School Board Monday the district was using about five times more bandwidth than a year ago.
"We've only killed the system once," he said. He explained that the major problems were encountered on Sept. 3, the first day of school, when classes were downloading software, textbooks and applications to their devices at the same time.
School technology staff had upgraded the school building's capacity over the summer, but it was still overwhelmed on that first day. The problems were resolved after that.
This is the first year the school has issued an iPad to every student. Last year, students in grades 11 and 12 were able to keep their iPads throughout the year.
Younger students had used iPads in classes but had not been able to take them from school.
Last year, school officials decided that providing individual iPads for all four grades at the school would actually be less expensive than to continue to purchase them for use in classrooms.
That led to the logjam on the first day of school. The district received a 50 percent increase in its available bandwidth from Little Crow Telemedia Network, which provides internet service for many area school districts, Kjergaard said.
Also at the meeting, Kjergaard announced that the University of Minnesota Marching Band would be performing its fall indoor concerts in Willmar this year.
The two concerts are scheduled for 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Willmar Senior High gym.
The band's concerts were held in the Rochester Mayor Civic Center last fall. The band has traveled to other venues while its usual concert site Northrup Auditorium is under renovation.
Kjergaard said the school district is seeking sponsors to help with the $13,000 cost of producing the concerts. About $9,000 has been raised already.
Donations will also be needed for food and drinks, printing and advertising. The sponsorships will allow the school to provide free general admission tickets for the concerts.
The school will be able to seat 3,600 to 4,000 people on the bleachers at the two concerts. In addition, the concert will be simulcast online.
In other business, the board set a special meeting for 4:30 p.m. Sept. 23 to adopt a preliminary property tax levy for 2014. A board workshop will be held after the special meeting.