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NL-S Board approves VSCHOOLZ digital agreement

NEW LONDON -- The New London-Spicer School Board on Monday approved an agreement with VSCHOOLZ to provide a pilot program to provide digital curriculum to the district for four years.

In the first year, the district will use the digital program for a total of 535 students, including math for 23 students in each of the third and fourth grades, all 106 fifth-grade students for both math and social studies, 50 freshman algebra students, 112 sophomore biology students and 115 high school students taking geometry. A total of 11 teachers will use the digital program for the fall session.

The estimated cost, at $90 per credit hour, is $48,150, according to the agreement presented by Superintendent Paul Carlson. The first year of the program will be cost neutral, Carlson noted, because the district will use money it would have spent on high school math textbooks.

The board members had a long discussion on the impact of selectively implementing the digital curriculum, with some students having the advanced digital opportunity while others are not given that opportunity.

"If we are going to do math, do the whole grade," board member Holli Cogelow Ruter said.

The district has to give teachers a way to bridge into the digital teaching realm. Board member David Kilpatrick noted the district's push to implement new technology equipment must be paired with digital curriculum.

"It doesn't make sense to put Smartboards in each classroom and have iPad carts and then buy textbooks," he said. "We can't just sit back and buy textbooks."

The digital curriculum is the same, or similar, to that already used by the district, Kilpatrick noted. For instance, the elementary classrooms will use the same math curriculum, with one section of the third and fourth grades using the digital version, while their peers use the textbook version.

-- Gretchen Schlosser