COVINGTON, Ga. - According to Adam Phyall, Newton County School System’s (NCSS’s) director of technology and media services, 60 percent of NCSS’s 15,261 computer devices are more than four-years old. He presented this fact as well as a five-year computer replacement and technology enhancement plan NCSS Board of Education (BOE) at its Aug. 16 meeting.
Regarding computer technology to support learning, Phyall reported that NCSS has four goals. These are 1) to use the best instructional practices with technology, 2) to know what technology tools are available and how to use them, 3) to use technology to improve communication and 4) to ensure technology is available and that it works as advertised.
Phyall highlighted several strengths of the NCSS’s current technology environment.
“We have the largest deployment of VIEWpath camera systems in the country,” Phyall said. The NCSS has 1,366 classrooms fitted with this system. It allows teachers to make a video recording of classroom activity for later review.
NCSS also has 1,072 interactive whiteboards with projectors as well as 194 interactive projectors. With nearly 2,000 wireless access points spread around the System’s buildings, every student and every classroom can connect to the internet wirelessly. Finally, the System has upgraded its phone system.
To address the problem of antiquated computers, Phyall outlined and proposed a five-year plan aimed at the following results: one up-to-date laptop computer for every teacher; enough shared mobile devices to establish and maintain a 1:2 device to student ratio throughout the NCSS; and robust opportunity for students to bring and use their own devices. If adopted old computers would be phased out and replaced over five years with 11,050 laptops and 368 shared carts. The use of current computer labs would be reviewed and these would be eliminated or enhanced as needed to support instruction.
The cost to fully implement the proposed plan is estimated to be $757,150 this academic year and about $1.3 million each year for the next four years. Over the next four years, two instructional technology specialists, one operational technology coordinator and one network technician would need to be hired.
Phyall closed by stating that while technology is not a “silver bullet” or a guarantee of higher student achievement, there is a lot of research indicating that technology results in a more engaged classroom, a more rigorous classroom and higher attendance rates.
In other action, the BOE recognized AP Scholars from Eastside High School and Newton College and Career Academy; accepted federal 21st Century Community Learning Center Program grant funds; renewed a contract for after-school programs at the Washington Street Community Center; approved purchase of Fastbridge Learning software to support student assessment needs and documentation at a cost of $84,000; approved a library and asset management software agreement with Follett School Solutions (costing $29,425); renewed a contract with Infinity Network Solutions for maintenance of Aerohive wireless access points ($109,270) and Cicso infrastructure equipment ($349,972); approved the disposal of surplus property; approved a request from the New Rock Bears Football & Cheerleading Association for use of fields at Newton High School for youth football practice and games; adopted a training plan for BOE members; and approved a resolution supporting the “Georgia Vision Project for Public Education,” a project of the Georgia School Superintendents Association and the Georgia School Boards Association aimed at improving public education.
Finally, the BOE hired seven new teachers, 10 paraprofessionals, two school nurses and three staff members as well as approved four resignations, one separation, and one termination.