New school websites set to launch this week
By Kathryn Schiliro
New websites for each of the county's schools are set to go live this Friday, Jan. 18.
The new websites were built using the Morgan County Board of Education's new website, launched in November, as a design template, giving the entire system's sites "a common look and feel," system Director of Technology Jay Cawley told the school board Monday night.
In other school system technology-related news, because the system didn't receive the Race to the Top-District grant, word of which came down from the U.S. Department of Education last month, the system is moving ahead with measures to acquire new technology using less than $450,000 in Education Local Option Sales Tax (ELOST) funds, Cawley said.
The funds will be used to buy 600 new netbooks for the system, to be distributed among the elementary, middle and high schools, coming out to about 60 more computers per grade level.
When the netbooks arrive, they will be grouped in carts of 10 for teachers to use in collaborative groups. The fee for the carts is also part of the $450,000.
There are currently five to six computers in every classroom. So, with the addition of the netbooks, the ratio of students to computers will be about two to one, Cawley said.
These new computers will become especially necessary with the move to the Common Core curriculum, as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC) assessment used with this new curriculum will be given on the computer rather than with paper and pencil.
Adding to the accessibility to technology, students will be allowed to bring in their own devices for use in their schoolwork. Cawley has set up the school system's virtual network to be device-neutral, so that varying programs can be accessed by any device. For example, Apple iPads aren't compatible with Adobe's Flash Player, which creates a problem for utilization of videos. The network allows for devices to tunnel in and be able to run Flash through a virtual desktop, no matter the device.
Cawley also mentioned that he was working with the Madison-Morgan County Boys & Girls Club, headquartered at the middle school, to network their facility into the system so that they could use the system's technological assets after school hours, when many of the students there are working on their homework.
BOE member Dave Belton suggested doing something similar with the county library.
Additionally, Cawley said that the system would be applying for funds from the federal government's E-Rate program, administered through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Printed in the January 17, 2013 edition.