By Dave Fidlin


Waterford Union High School could soon join its fellow K-8 feeder schools – and scores of other statewide districts – and begin offering issued laptops to each of its students through a gradual rollout process.

Superintendent Keith Brandstetter and Principal Dan Foster discussed with WUHS’ School Board on Feb. 26 a proposal to bring the so-called one-to-one program to the school, perhaps as soon as this fall.

It is no secret Smartphones, laptops, tablets and other devices are an engrained part of most students’ daily lives.

For this reason, Brandstetter and Foster pointed to the high school’s current Bring Your Own Device policy during some lesson plans, which is augmented by district-owned laptops that are available to students who do not bring a piece of technology to school.

In taking the technology use plan one step further, Brandstetter and Foster pitched to the School Board a proposal for the one-to-one program so all students would be learning on the same device, and teachers could issue more uniform lessons when technology enters the equation.

“We’re in a direction now where it’s no longer just the new shiny thing,” Brandstetter said. “Some other people have paved the way. It’s really our time to get on the bus.”

Gov. Scott Walker’s most recent biennium budget included a provision that would provide seed funding to any districts rolling out the uniform one-to-one program. Brandstetter said it amounts to $125 for each ninth-grader.

Board members had a robust discussion with administrators on the proposal. No formal action was taken at this week’s meeting.

A firm decision on whether to proceed with one-to-one could be made in the months ahead as officials begin crafting the finder points of WUHS’ 2018-19 school year budget.

Board member Nancy Klemko said she was not opposed to the plan, outright, though she did express a number of preliminary reservations during this week’s discussion.

“It’s a nice idea, but I think there’s a lot to be looked at,” Klemko said. “I don’t think we should just jump into it.”

Klemko’s concerns included the potential health impacts of persons sitting in front of illuminated computer screens for long periods of time. She also inquired about the amount of time teachers would interface with students in the classroom.

Foster said many of the tried-and-true traditional teaching methods would remain in place, including face-to-face classroom instruction.

“This is really a supplementary tool that’s going to enhance the learning process,” Foster said, adding he would look further into research studies on effects of routine exposure to illuminated screens.

Other board members had tentative questions about the cost WUHS would have to shoulder to bring the one-to-one program to fruition, but were otherwise supportive of the plan.

“I would like to know the full cost. It would be good to know the numbers before we jump in,” board member Mike Schoenfeld said. “But, personally, I think we have been behind the times.”

Brandstetter said the district’s Technology Committee vetted the one-to-one proposal before bringing it to the School Board with a favorable recommendation.