New technology coming to West Jefferson schools

Each student at the West Jefferson junior high and high school will be given a Google Chromebook this year. The district purchased a total of around 400 of the devices.

West Jefferson School District No. 253 will have updated technology meant to improve the student experience this year.

Two major changes are coming to the district, with a new website and with students in the high school and junior high school each receiving their own Google Chromebook.

The district has invested in about 400 Google Chromebooks, district superintendent Shane Williams said. High school students will be able to take their laptops home, while junior high students will have access to them while at school,Williams said. He said the money for the Chromebooks came from the technology funds and school improvement funds. Williams said he thinks the technology will help students transition more easily to college and future careers in a world that is becoming increasingly technological.

High school principal David McDonald said the idea to give each student a personal laptop came up late in 2018, with students giving their input on the plan this spring. McDonald said the technology will help improve organization and reduce paper use at the high school.

“You can do so much on Google Documents and things like that so (teachers) can give feedback directly,” McDonald said.

He said students will have the option to pay $25 insurance per year, which would ensure the Chromebook could be replaced if anything were to happen. Additionally, he said those who opt to pay the $25 will be able to keep the laptop after graduation, and the district will continue to purchase new technology for future students.

But Chromebooks are not the only technological change coming to West Jefferson. Students and parents might have already noticed the district has a new website, www.wjsd.org. Williams said the reason for the new website is so the district will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Among other features, Williams said the website will enable those with sight impairments who have certain software involved to hover over portions of the website to have the wording read aloud. He said other more up-to-date features have been implemented as well, but not everything is in place yet.

“We’re still in the process of converting everything over from the other one,” he said.

Williams said he wanted to thank patrons for their patience through the ongoing process of setting up the new website.