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Elmwood considers updates to technology, lighting, parking lots PDF Print E-mail
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor   
Thursday, 13 February 2014 11:27
JERRY CITY - The need for more technology in the form of laptops and computers took up much of the discussion at Elmwood's school board meeting Monday, and was the concern of most teachers in the room.
Elmwood Schools administrators have four projects they want to start this spring including updating the infrastructure for technology, improving the energy efficiency of outside lights, and repairing parking lots.
(A story on the needs for a new band room is on page 1 today.)
Brian King, school board president, said that by updating the infrastructure, that will free up money for technology.
"The pace of our technology is not keeping up with the need," he admitted.
Updating the building's core technology capabilities would cost $400,000 - $200,000 each for a new mainframe, which includes the main core switch and many close switches located throughout the building - and virtualization of the system.
A switch is like a hub, but mainly it is where a main line branches out to individual areas, Superintendent Tony Borton explained. So the main core switch has one line and it branches out to the tech closet switches. Then in turn, that one line into the tech closet is branched out to the individual classrooms.
Virtualizing the current computer system would replace stored data and operating systems on a specific machine to a network where the information can be accessed from any computer by using a password and will allow the district to use older machines as the speed is in the network and not the individual computer, Borton added.
It would also allow network administrator Dave Fawcett to fix problems from a central site, rather than having to be at the teacher's or student's side.
Borton compared the current system as having a 100-lane freeway entering the building, in relation to Internet speed, and having it drop to 10 lanes once it reaches the district's mainframe.
Brenda Schnitker, special education supervisor, was concerned for upcoming PARCC assessment field tests that will be given this spring. The assessments will be administered the 2014-15 school year to assess K-12 learning in English and math.
She said the tests don't check the student's knowledge of the subject, but their skills on the computer.
She said many students in K-2 have not been raised with technology.
Several teachers commented on concern over students understanding the computer enough to negotiate the test.
Emily Blair, a special needs teacher for third grade, suggested the district hire someone to go from class to class, working with both students and teachers on how to utilize the technology offered.
Borton was adamant about not adding more staff to the payroll.
One teacher was frustrated over the lack of technology equality from classroom to classroom. Teachers are evaluated of their students'' grades, and a colleague has technology that she doesn't have, namely a Smart board.
"The first part of fixing something is identifying it as a problem," said King. "If money wasn't an option, we could just waive our wand and fix it."
Borton said he hopes to have the computer system updated by the fall, which would free up more funds for laptops and other technology.
As for updating the outdoor lighting, there are 120 fixtures that give off a yellow glow at night that can be confused as a town from a distance.
Borton wants to switch to LED lights with a dimmer and motion sensors. The district would pay off the estimated $100,000 in cost in five to 10 years from the electricity savings.
The parking lots need to be completely resealed and restriped and need to be rebuilt in spots. The district also needs to add handicap parking on the East Campus and the athletic facilities.
The estimated cost of this project is $50,000.
The total of all projects is $1.45 million, including a new band room for $900,000.
Borton suggested taking a 10-year loan on the new construction and a five-year loan on technology.
Borton completed his report by stating that "we're busting at the seams of this building."
While enrollment has been pretty stable, he envisions the future expansion of classroom space.
The way the building was designed, classrooms can be added at the end of each wing.
Borton also told the board if nothing changes from the state on calamity day usage, the district will use the last day of spring break and then go into June to make up the lost days.
Elmwood has lost 12 days to inclement weather. Five are allowed from the state and there is legislation to add four days.
The district will offer up to three Blizzard Bag at-home homework days to make up lost time.
Board member Ryan Lee voted against that plan.
He said he has heard that at-home projects equal classroom time.
"I don't think those things actually equal each other," he said. He would rather see students in the classroom, even if it takes them into the first week of June.
Borton also addressed a rumor that the state would forgive calamity days used because of Level 3 snow emergencies. He said he has heard no proof of that.
Ohio Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) also said via emailhe has not heard of this option.
 

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