Swearing in new trustee

Park County No. 6 School Board Chairman Jake Fulkerson (right) swears in Ed Seymour as the new school board trustee. The school board chose Seymour Monday from four finalists vying for the open slot.

Door-sized digital kiosks could be coming to a school near you.

Instructional Technology Director James Kapptie pitched the idea Tuesday evening at the regular Park County School District No. 6 board meeting.

The SkoolLive touch-screen kiosks are “essentially 6-foot tall iPads or cell phones if you will, except you don’t get a call from them,” Kapptie said. “And with that, they are controlled by the school. They are controlled by the district in that sense.”

Cody High School would have three digital kiosks and the middle school would have two.

“More importantly, those devices would be controlled by the buildings they’re in,” he said. “Nothing would go on those (digital devices) that the building principal would not want on those.”

For example, the kiosks could have school calendars, the “thoughts of the day,” athletics and other activities. Another example would be “Don’t text and drive.”

“You could totally customize what you want on there,” he said. “And it’s interactive, so if a parent walks in the door they can click on what they need to see and go through it just as if there was a giant iPad or phone standing there for ’em.”

In his introduction of the digital kiosks, Kapptie said they provide a way to get information out to the community, students and parents who come through the door for activities, meetings and other matters.

Although he looked for a downside for installing the digital kiosks in the Cody schools, Kapptie instead sees it as a win-win situation for the school district.

Advertising ties

“Nothing is free, and we know that,” he said. “There is advertising tied to (these digital kiosks). It’s up to whoever wants to take part.

“Advertising goes through the district. Nothing goes on there without prior approval,” which would follow the district’s policies and what it deems “appropriate,” he explained. For example, a Coke or Pepsi ad might not be allowed depending on policy about the district selling sugary drinks.

20 percent return

“So with that said, we have no cost on this,” Kapptie said and therefore are not liable for the cost of upkeep nor for insurance claims.

For instance, Kapptie said, if an earthquake should happen and a digital kiosk falls on someone, the district would not be liable.

“So why would a company want to take part in this?” he asked. “Obviously they’ve got a very targeted audience. They’ve got high school, middle school kids tied to school and/or activities.

“So as a district, we get 20 percent back on any of those advertisements,” Kapptie said. One use of the district’s advertising revenue could be creating scholarships, school buildings or the school budget.

“It’s a discussion that doesn’t need to happen unless we continue down this path,” he said.

Besides the Cody School District, the only other Wyoming district slated to receive these $30,000 digital kiosks is Big Horn No. 4 in Basin. The biggest target market is in California, he said, adding Oregon and Washington state also have the kiosks as well as schools back East.

‘Kiddie marketing’

During the public comment period, however, a member of community spoke against the digital kiosks.

“So, I’m speaking as a parent,” Julie Cook said. “I did not come prepared to talk, so I did about five minutes of internet research on SkoolLive. So a lot of us are new to this.

“A lot of us are new to this,” board Chairman Jake Fulkerson interjected.

Cook cited online controversy.

“That’s kind of scary,” she said. “That sends red flags to me. I’m not sure we want our schools to profit from major companies advertising in our schools, to our school kids.

“So it would be my recommendation to get some data from other schools on how it’s working.”

Online controversy includes how much schools are getting from profit sharing from SkoolLive.

“Other red flags that came up were how will local businesses feel about using these billboards to sell the Coke and Nike,” Cook said. “And when we say, ‘Local businesses can do it.’ Well, there’s no money in that.

“I just see red flags. So I’d definitely recommend doing some more research. Having billboards in our schools is kind of scary to me.”

Board seeks review

The board moved the matter from a discussion item to an action item and then tabled the decision until the July board meeting.

“This isn’t an education company; this is an advertising company,” school board treasurer Stefani Bell said.

“We control what they see,” added Fulkerson. “But I want to get my arms around that ... I want to get this into the community and on Facebook pages. I’m more concerned with parents than local businesses.”

School Superintendent Ray Schulte said the board could investigate other school districts that have used SkoolLive, a three-year-old business.

“I find opportunity knocks,” Kapptie said. “I looked at what it can do for our kids. And in all fairness, you’re going to find what you’re going to find.”

(Janice Downey can be reached at janice@codyenterprise.com.)

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