PALMYRA, Mo. -- The Palmyra R-1 School District is exploring adopting a one-to-one technology initiative.
Under such a program, the district would provide access to computerized devices for all 1,100 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. But it's not clear what shape the program would take or how much it would cost.
"Right now we're gathering information," Palmyra Superintendent Eric Churchwell said. "We're just in the beginning planning stages."
Churchwell said a technology steering committee was formed a year ago to begin researching one-to-one options that might work well in the Palmyra school system.
"We've really ramped up our fact-finding this year," he said.
Churchwell said committee members have already visited four Missouri school districts that started one-to-one programs and plan to visit at least one more. The committee will then review what it learned with the goal of developing an implementation plan for Palmyra's schools.
Churchwell said it's not known whether the district would phase in the program gradually over the next three years or try to carry it out all at once. He said the program could begin on a limited basis next fall but many key decisions would have to be made and steps taken to get it off the ground that quickly.
"It's a lot more than just saying, 'We want every kid to have a laptop and here you go,' " Churchwell said. "What we need to do is transform a whole educational process through technology because teachers won't teach the same way and kids won't learn the same way. Professional development for teachers is a huge, huge part of it."
Churchwell said steering committee members are excited to see the district taking a serious look at a one-to-one program because many people recognize the important role technology can have on the educational process.
"Student engagement is a big thing," he said. "We believe this will engage students at a higher level."
Churchwell said students already use technology a great deal in their personal lives at home. "We want to make sure they have access to it in their educational life as well," he said.
One major factor being considered is what the initiative would cost and how the district would pay for it. Churchwell said the cost would depend on what types of devices would be used, such as tablet computers or laptops. He said costs could range anywhere from $300 to $1,500 for each device.
"There's all kinds of different ways you can finance it," he said. "You can do lease programs; you can buy them outright. We're looking at all of our options."
Churchwell believes the district could find a way to pay for the devices without significantly affecting the budget, though some additional revenue might be needed.
"One thing we have learned is there are ways you save in other areas," he said. "You don't use near as much paper, and there are ways to save on textbooks and things of that nature."