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The Lincoln Board of Education approved a 10-year, $50 million technology plan Tuesday that will provide Chromebooks for third- through 12th-graders by 2017-18 and provide tablets in classrooms of younger children.

The long-awaited plan that board member Don Mayhew called "the stuff of legacies" represents nearly two years of work and is based on overarching goals laid out in a board resolution. The plan, unlike an earlier plan, is based on real dollars LPS officials believe they can budget.

"We're going to be a district of notoriety because of what you approved today," Superintendent Steve Joel said.

With approval of the plan, the district will spend about $16 million to buy devices for all sixth-graders next year; third- through fifth-graders, seventh-graders and students at two high schools in 2016-17; and eighth-graders and the remaining four high schools in 2017-18. The money also will equip classrooms with projectors and wireless access points.

Board member Barb Baier said she was concerned that the first year of the plan doesn't include adding audio enhancement to all classrooms.

Mayhew, who headed up the board's work on the plan, said the approval is just the beginning of the process, and audio could be added in the future. District officials said school budgets also can be used to enhance audio in classrooms.

The plan also calls for reducing the number of computer labs by nearly half, from 440 labs to 223, saving about $1 million a year. The remaining labs will be for more specialized classes. 

The district has budgeted about $5.2 million a year for the plan. Actual costs each year vary some, and the district plans to use a depreciation fund to even out the cost. 

In other business, two members of Wilderness Hills subdivision in southwest Lincoln thanked the board for a recommendation that would leave their subdivision in the Scott Middle School attendance areas when the new Moore Middle School opens near 84th Street and Yankee Hill Road in 2017.

The recommendation splits the square mile that includes Wilderness Hills -- bounded by 27th and 40th streets and Rokeby and Yankee Hill roads -- leaving the largely developed western half in the Scott attendance area and moving the mostly undeveloped eastern half into Moore.

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Residents worried that when the board decided to remove a large swath of acreages west of U.S. 77 from the Moore boundary recommendation and leave it in the Scott district, that they'd move the Wilderness Hills subdivision to Moore instead.

Beth Throener said families in that area live within a mile of Adams Elementary, Scott Middle and Southwest High and did not want to have to bus their children to Moore.

Lana Bliemeister said Wilderness Hills families support the recommendations despite how full Scott will be in coming years.

"We as a neighborhood know there is an overpopulation at Scott Middle School and understand that with our kids going, there will be issues with our kids," she said. 

Perhaps, she said, that growth will peak and eventually be relieved by another middle school in the area.

The board will vote in April on the proposed boundary changes for Moore and Wysong, which will open in 2016 near 63rd Street and Yankee Hill Road.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com.

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Education reporter

Margaret Reist is a Lincoln native, the mom of three high school graduates now navigating college and an education junkie who covers students, teachers and policymakers inside and outside the K-12 classroom.

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