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BOE considering Clear Touch panels
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The Newton County Board of Education is considering a contract to purchase new Clear Touch interactive touchscreen panels for the classrooms.

The one-year contract would go to Greenville, South Carolina-based Encore Technology Group, LLC and be worth $226,503. Funds from the general fund would be used to pay the contract.

Newton County School System Technology Director Gary Shattuck says that these new panels would replace interactive white boards, which have projectors and interactive projectors in the county’s classrooms.

The problem with those technologies is the cost associated with the projection component of the equipment.

“Just this year the cost of interactive panels came down to the cost of interactive white boards,” said Shattuck to the board during its Tuesday night work session. “The reason it’s more efficient is because it doesn’t have a projector, so you don’t have that replacement bulb cost, you don’t have that replace projector cost. The life expectancy of the interactive panel is longer than interactive white boards.”

An interactive panel looks similar to a flatscreen TV. Users can manipulate images and text on the screen with the just their hand.

“It’s about the same cost that we were paying for the interactive white boards but it’s a much better solution,” said Shattuck.

About 200 of NCSS teachers were involved in the selection process of the new panels. At a technology conference in July, Shattuck says he asked teachers attend to get an opportunity to play tryout the 10 different panels, from 10 different manufactures, the technology department was considering.

District 2 school board member Eddie Johnson lauded Shattuck for involving the teachers in the selection process.
“I just applaud you on the method that you used to determine which one,” said Johnson.

The board will vote on this proposal at its regular monthly meeting Jan. 20. The meeting will be held in the Newton County Board of Education building, 2109 Newton Drive.

In other school business, the board viewed a short presentation about a new program being created with the NCSS called Team IMPACT.

The project aims to help identify children in school who may have a mental illness to provide them with the specific type of help they may need.

NCSS Deputy Superintendent Craig Lockhart says the program is still very much in the early stages. Teachers will go through a training process that will help them identify “red flags” in behavior that may be associated with a mental health disorder.

Lockhart told the board the schools participating in the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support program, or PBIS, would be the first ones to participate in the new mental health.

Students aged 11 to 18 can be referred into the mental illness program.

“Those are your middle schools, Newton High School and Alcovy High School is also going to be a part of it,” he said.

The program will be funded by a five-year state grant the NCSS recently received.