Project Connect accepted by USD 418 BOE, roll out slowed

By Chris Swick
June 09, 2015

Concerns over changes in staffing and the uncertainty over the budget situation caused the USD 418 board of education to slow the roll-out of Project Connect.

Outgoing McPherson High principal Bret McClendon said he believed in the project, which would give students at McPherson High School the choice between using Google Chromebooks at a rental fee of $40 a year or bring their personal devices from home, but, with Brad Plackemeier taking over as of July 1, he would be more comfortable with acceptance of the plan to give the administration more time to bring everyone up to speed.

“As I think about the changing of the leadership at the high school and again, of course, here at the central office,” McClendon said, “even [USD 418 superintendent Dr. Randy Watson] got me to stop and think today 'are we ready for it?' I feel confident and comfortable with acceptance, which is what Dr. Watson had changed it to tonight on the board's agenda. I really do, because I think the plan is good. I just want to make sure that I don't leave a headache for [Plackemeier], I don't leave a headache for [incoming USD 418 superintendent Mark Crawford] and I don't leave a headache for somebody at the high school.”

For USD 418 Superintendent Dr. Randy Watson, who is also leaving the school district at the end of the month, the concern isn't so much the turnover in staff, it's the uncertainty of the budget situation as they try to pass a three-percent hike in the LOB.

“That worries me in terms of in terms of support,” Watson said. “We have such a small tech staff that, if we don't have full support at the high school because of budget constraints, that's going to fall to [USD 418 Director of Technology] Larry [Chaney] and t Russell [Kahle, Technology Staff Development] and we don't have a lot of support given what a lot of districts have. So it's not just that Bret and I are leaving that causes me to just pause to make sure some other things are in line before we will do this.”

The McPherson board did vote to accept Project Connect by a 7-0 vote, with full approval to be given at a later meeting.

The aim is to roll-out the project early in the 2015-2016 school year.