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Telepresence to be installed in LSSD buildings

The Education Innovation Partners director gave a presentation at the Lake Superior School District board meeting Tuesday and gave a timeline on getting the school's new telepresence system up and running.

EIP is an organization that works for schools who are part of the cooperative by creating a teaching, learning and leadership Academy, focusing on personalized learning and developing and implementing a regional technology plan. The technology plan includes using grant money to install telepresence equipment for schools in the region, which could give students more of a variety of course options. Telepresence is a high definition, immersive videoconferencing experience that allows students and instructors to connect across hundreds of miles as if they were in the same room.

"You can also take virtual field trips," said EIP executive director Joe Silko. "If students want to visit the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, they can."

Silko said that the telepresence isn't to be used as a way to cut staff, but as a way to add opportunities for students. Two Harbors High School, William Kelley Schools and Minnehaha Elementary will have a telepresence available in each school for use. The equipment has been in the school for months now and Silko said that it will finally be installed within the the next month, and teachers and staff will be trained on the use of the equipment.

"We originally thought that it would be in place for the second semester this year, but it didn't happen," Silko said. "Now we are shooting to have it up and running by next September for students to use."

EIP received a $355,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service grant to set up the telepresence. LSSD also received a IRRRB grant for $110,000 to upgrade the Internet connects in the buildings as well as provide 100 Chromebooks to each school to help take pressure off of some of the outdated computer labs. Dues to be apart of EIP are $6,000 per district plus $1 per pupil.

Also at the meeting, the School Board approved a resolution in support of the four-day week application as part of the process for the application. The vote was 3-2 with Paul Borg and Shannon Fabini casting the nay votes. Cyndi Ryder was absent from the meeting, so board member Dwight Moe voted yes on the resolution to prevent it from ending in a stalemate.

The School Board will hold a budget meeting on March 25 at 2 p.m. at THHS.

Adelle Whitefoot

Adelle Whitefoot is a Michigan native who moved to Minnesota in Sept. 2014 when she started as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle. She graduated from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., in 2012 with a bachelor's in English writing and has been a professional photographer since 2011. Whitefoot is the night general assignments reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. 

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