TCS updating technology across district

Published 4:00 am Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A new TCS BlendED initiative is under way and seeks to put integrated and upgraded technology across the district.

Eujoun Anderson, technology coordinator, shared an update on the initiative with members of the Troy City Schools Board of Education on Monday.

“Our firewall and infrastructure are being upgraded,” Anderson said. “Our firewall will be upgraded this week and our Internet bandwidth will increase to 200 MB download speed … In the month of November we’ll have a complete infrastructure upgrade, including new wireless access points in every classroom and replacing old switches and routers.”

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The initiative also blends the iPad One to One initiative that started in 2012 with the new efforts to convert TCS to a Google District. Students in grades 10-12 will keep the iPads and students in the ninth grade are receiving Chromebooks. “Some of the iPads that were damaged or locked have been refurbished and repaired and passed down to the elementary and middle school,” Anderson said.

In addition, old Netbooks which were no longer being used have been refurbished and converted into functioning Chromebooks to give more students access to technology and devices.

“And we’re starting a BYOD pilot program at Charles Henderson Middle School,” he said. Five teachers at CHMS have volunteered to make their classrooms “bring your own device” classes and will work with parents to allow students to bring their own devices – laptops or tablets – into the classroom for use. “We want to expand the program to the elementary school, where we pick another five teachers to pilot the program,” he said.

The district also is offering enhanced professional development opportunities for teachers, focusing on using Google Docs and Google Drive, as well as Gmail.

“And we are hosting a Google Roadshow on Oct. 30,” Anderson said, explaining that representatives from Google will be in Troy to share the benefits of becoming a Google District. Representatives of school districts throughout the southeast region of Alabama have been invited to attend.

Dr. Lee Hicks, superintendent, said the conversion to a Google District and the technology initiatives have provided cost savings as well. “We were able to eliminate an email server when we converted to Gmail,” Anderson explained.

In other business on Monday, the board:

• Heard an update from a representative of Schneider Electric regarding its proposed energy efficiency and capital reinvestment plan. The company is seeking to partner with TCS to conduct an energy efficiency audit with the district and develop a plan to improve efficiencies and, in turn, save the district some $70,000 to $90,000 per year in energy costs. The program would require a 20-year commitment for the district. Hicks told the board members they would need to make a decision about the program by the beginning of November in order to be able to implement equipment repairs and upgrades during summer 2016. He cited 35 air conditioning units at Troy Elementary and two units in the Charles Henderson High School gym as potentially nearing the end of their lifespan. The board members asked to have a work session to further discuss the project and the proposal.

• Approved a leave of absence for Willie Stewart, Troy-Pike Center for Technology custodian, until Nov. 17, and a salary increase for Mickey Daughtry, chief financial officer, to $84,000 annually.

• Approved the revisions and additions to the board policy, which had been presented 30 days ago and offered for public review. “These are basically the changes mandated by the state,” Hicks said.

• Selected Roxie Kitchens as the delegate and Eva Green as the alternative for the upcoming 2015 Delegate Assembly

• Approved financial statements and payment of bills. Sales tax revenues for September were $254,359.69, an 8.2 percent increase over LY. Daughtry said sales tax revenues had trended above budget for the whole fiscal year.

“Actually, the $254,359 in September was above our three-year average, which is about $232,000,” he said.