Indicating the district was preparing for the possibility that the type of remote learning currently in place could be necessary next school year as well, the board of education unanimously on Monday approved a $9 million investment in refreshing 19,000 iPads and 775 Apple TVs.The previously planned device refresh had been tabled by the board in February after administrators said they wanted to spend a year reviewing how iPads and MacBooks were being used before committing additional dollars to the program.But with the devices now providing a direct link between students and teachers during the unforeseen school building closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the board of education last week announced it was putting the refresh back on the table.Moving ahead with the refresh as planned does offer some minor financial benefits — it will allow the district to recoup $1.75 million by selling the used devices being replaced. That figure would be expected to diminish by approximately 60% if the devices on hand were kept for an additional year. But COVID-19 will likely complicated the resale process, officials noted.“It should be understood that our ability to collect devices in a timely manner during the month of May is a major factor [in maximizing the proceeds from selling devices],” Executive Director of Information and Communications Technologies Drew Lane wrote in a memo to the board. “It should also be understood that the figure is based on historical and familiar market trends.”Still, members of the board of education and administrators said that, while there were continued concerns about connectivity problems and filtering issues, the devices were an important instructional tool in the current environment. About 93% of the district’s 1:1 devices have connected to the district’s virtual private network since the continuous learning initiative began, indicating that they’ve been widely used by students.Superintendent Mike Fulton told the board that the administration planned to conduct a detailed review of how devices contributed to student learning during this spring quarter so they’ll have a better sense of what works and what doesn’t moving into the next school year.“They are just tools for learning,” Superintendent Mike Fulton said of the devices. “Every tool has to be used in appropriate ways.”Public comment was suspended for the meeting because it was being held remotely, so there was no patron input considered during the proceedings.
LAS VEGAS — Playing an Air Force team that finished 0-16 in league play shouldn’t have been a problem for the Utah basketball team in the opening round of the Mountain West Conference women’s tournament Tuesday afternoon.Except that last time the Utes played an 0-16 team in the tourney, just two years ago, they were shocked by Colorado State in the first round.As it turned out, the Falcons weren’t any problem for the Utes, who cruised to a 63-40 victory behind the stellar play of senior Kalee Whipple and freshman Taryn Wicijowski at the Thomas & Mack Center.Wicijowski, who was named MWC freshman of the year a day earlier, was unstoppable inside, hitting 11 of 14 shots for a career-high 24 points. Meanwhile, Whipple, a MWC first-team selection, did a bit of everything in scoring 16 points, tying her career high with 12 rebounds, dishing out a career-high seven assists and making four steals, which tied her season best.The victory was the 20th of the season for the Utes (20-10), marking the 20th time in 27 seasons that coach Elaine Elliott has won at least 20 games. The Utes will play New Mexico today at 5:30 p.m. The Lobos defeated Colorado State 67-54.”Our kids competed hard, weathered things early, gutted through things and stretched it to a comfortable margin,” she said. “We were pleased to win the game against a very competitive Air Force team.”It took awhile for the Utes to get going as they only led 10-9 midway through the first half. They increased the lead to 21-13 by halftime and pushed the lead to 14 before the Falcons cut the lead to 38-31 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Kathleen Schjodt and Kelsey Berger.However, Elliott called time and the Utes came back with 11 straight points by — who else — Wicijowski and Whipple. Wicijowski got free under the basket for three baskets, while Whipple hit a 3-pointer and a jumper in the lane to push the lead to 49-31.”There was a lot of gaps in their matchup zone, and we just kind of found those gaps where people couldn’t find me,” Wicijowski said.”She’s certainly poised and not a lot of things rattle her,” said Elliott. “She’s already, as a freshman, seen everything thrown at her.”Air Force had no one who could match up against the 6-foot-3 center from Regina, Canada.”She was a difficult matchup,” said Air Force’s Schjodt, who had to guard Wicijowski much of the night, despite being a skinny 120 pounds, according to coach Ardie McInelly. “We’re were outsized. She’s a very tough player, very skilled inside.”Whipple, who averages over 36 minutes per game, hit her average Tuesday as she never left the game until the final four minutes with the Utes leading by 19.When asked if she ever gets tired, she laughed and said, “Never. You never let the opponent know you’re tired.”The Lobos will be out for revenge today after losing to the Utes in last year’s semifinals when Utah came back from a 16-point deficit and won 56-55 on Morgan Warburton’s last-second jumper. Earlier this year, Utah defeated New Mexico 46-40 in Salt Lake and 52-49 in Albuquerque.GAME NOTES: Utah outscored Air Force 48-8 in the paint … The Utes shot 55.3 percent from the field compared to 26 percent for AFA … Janita Badon had eight points and four steals for the Utes, but also committed five turnovers … Air Force had three players in double figures with Schjodt scoring 12 and Berger and Raimee Beck 10 apiece … Diana Rolniak had four points, six rebounds and three blocks off the bench for Utah.e-mail: [email protected]