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OLEAN – The Olean City School District is preparing for when students must take state exams in a digital format, replacing the No. 2 pencil with a computer mouse.

Part of the long-term plan calls for the district to buy iPads for early elementary-level students as help develop technical skills. But those skills will come at a price, according to Superintendent Colleen M. Taggerty.

Just back from a week of conferences with members of the state Education Department discussing such issues, Taggerty said other superintendents expressed the need for a “less aggressive” timeline. Current expectation is to have tests in a digital format by the 2014-15 school year.

“One superintendent reminded the commissioner that they were considering the elimination of kindergarten on budgetary concerns,” she said. “To his credit, the commissioner was taking notes.”

School Board President Ira Katzenstein said, “I think we should send a reminder to the commissioner and the rest of [the Education Department] that they need to slow down and work on development at both ends of the spectrum.”

Taggerty said she asked Cso Woodworth, district technology administrator, to come up with a cost estimate for the move toward that goal. Her conservative estimate was $500,000, an expense the district could have difficulty affording.

Other technological moves would see the Large Group Instructional Room in the Intermediate Middle School retrofitted to accommodate data drop ports for 50 laptops. The room now has ports for 25 computers. The plan would have mini-hubs installed to reduce the reliance on wireless Internet, Woodworth told the board members.

Woodworth said technology updates include opening the student portal on the district website. The portal, similar to the parent portal, will give students a glimpse into such areas as absences, grades and lunch account balances, as well as school activities.