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April 5, 2013

Logan schools special ed gets $70K technology grant

Logansport school corporation won a $70,000 grant to add to its special education technology, school administrators found out Wednesday.

“We’re pretty excited,” said school curriculum director Jackie Danhauser. “I’m still reeling.”

The Special Education Improvement Award, one of several distributed across the state, will fund installation of 16 interactive whiteboards in special education classrooms primarily at the elementary and middle schools, she said.

The grant also covers the cost of 20 iPads for special education use, some software purchases and professional development through the PATINS project, a statewide technical assistance network.

“It’s going to be a lot of interactive technology that they can use with their students, whether whole-group or individual,” said Danhauser.

The competitive award program, administered through the Indiana Department of Education, required the school to demonstrate how teachers would use the equipment proposed for purchase and why it was needed. That need wasn’t hard to show, said Danhauser.

While the school corporation’s special education department, Logansport Area Joint Special Services Education, provides special education for several area school districts, the hardware and software funded by the recent grant will be installed at, used and owned by Logansport schools, Danhauser said, benefiting 531 students enrolled there in special education classes.

Special education students, even more than traditional students, benefit from new technology that allows them to touch, see, feel and hear what they’re learning, she explained — whiteboards and iPads provide “lots of different ways for them to learn the same thing. It brings learning alive.”

Danhauser and LAJSSE supervisors focused on getting hardware for special education classrooms in this grant because it was a one-shot deal, explained LAJSSE supervisor Melanie Green.

Most software for special education use requires an annual subscription fee, she said. She hopes to get more software through funding from other, ongoing sources after the one-time grant is used on physical equipment.

Danhauser expects to place the equipment orders after May 1, once the school receives the grant contract from the state. Administrators will have to have receipts turned in to the IDOE by Dec. 15 for reimbursement.

“It was a quick turnaround,” Danhauser said. “We didn’t have much time to gather our thoughts to write [the grant application] — it was just all of a sudden here.”

Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at sarah.einselen@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5151.

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