Student learns art techniques using a lap top.
A student learns art techniques using a laptop. (Photo by Jackie Rehwald)

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Springfield Board of Education members will get one of their first public looks at a unifying technology plan during an upcoming study session. In the same meeting, they may consider separate limitations on cellphone use by students. 

Set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 11, at Kraft Administration Center, the study session will allow board members to take a deeper dive into a number of issues that will be brought to the board during its regular meeting set for June 25.

The technology plan is expected to formalize how the district uses computers and software for educational purposes, including tablet devices and curriculum. It was requested in August by board member Maryam Mohammadkhani. 

It is expected to be structured similarly to the district’s five-year strategic plan, so that it can be used to anchor or direct any future discussions about technology purchases — much the same way the strategic plan is used to direct the district’s decisions.

Technology has been the subject of several discussions over the last two years. After months of discussion, the board in February 2023 scaled back the use of Chromebooks and further limited the rules for taking school-issued devices home. 

The same issue came up in February this year when discussing a similar purchase of Chromebooks. This year, the board allowed for a greater replacement plan that included enough devices for each kindergarten student to have their own device. A survey of kindergarten teachers helped some board members reverse their previous opposition. 

Documentation of the proposed plan was not available as of Friday afternoon. 

Cellphone use also up for discussion

While the agenda calls for a report on the technology plan, a separate agenda item lists a board member request to discuss cellphones. 

The use of smartphones and other communication devices was mentioned several times in a May discussion about behavior and discipline. The use of them during the school day is prohibited, according to the district’s student handbook. While a student may carry one, a student found with one powered on is subject to the school district’s discipline policies. 

Board members in May sounded interested in further limits for students in the district’s more than 50 schools, and also said enforcement needs to be much more consistent.

The topic has been tackled across the nation by school board members and state legislatures. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that 77% of U.S. schools prohibit students using cellphones in a non-academic manner, and Florida in 2023 made such use a violation of state law.

The agenda did not specify which board member asked for the discussion about cellphones.

Board member’s MEC violation also on agenda

In a similar manner, a board member has also requested to discuss a violation by another board member of election rules decided by the Missouri Ethics Commission. The agenda did not state which board member asked for the discussion. 

Board member Shurita Thomas-Tate in March was fined by the commission for failing to submit financial interest statements in 2020 and 2021, in accordance with Missouri law and board of education policy. A fine of $2,000 was assessed, with the option of reducing that payment by $1,800 if Thomas-Tate paid within 45 days.

Board President Danielle Kincaid said that the board has not yet taken any actions regarding the finding. While the board can agree to a censure as a reprimand, its current policies offer no punishments or disciplines that match the findings and fine already levied by the commission.

Joe Hadsall

Joe Hadsall is the education reporter for the Hauxeda. Hadsall has more than two decades of experience reporting in the Ozarks with the Joplin Globe, Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine. Contact him at (417) 837-3671 or More by Joe Hadsall