Board votes to expand technology
Every elementary school classroom in Lincoln County could have a digital white board by the end of the year.
The school system wants to add the boards to every school in the district, and the Board of Education learned Monday, Jan. 23, that there’s enough money in the school’s budget to put the digital boards – often called SMART boards – in more than 100 classrooms.
School Board Member Candy Burgin brought up the idea to school leaders, asking Superintendent Sherry Hoyle and her staff to look at ways to put more boards in more classrooms.
“In some schools, every classroom has them, but it’s not that way across the board,” Burgin said.
Steve Zickefoose, assistant superintendent for finance, told the board the district has about $400,000 extra because of the school system’s efforts to cut costs, and because of some one-time funding available from the state.
That $400,000 could buy about 114 digital white boards, which would completely fill the 100 remaining elementary school classrooms across the county that don’t have them.
And since it’s one-time money, Board Member Bob Silver said it makes sense to use the money for equipment purchases rather than hiring because that money might not be available in next year’s budget.
“We should take advantage of every opportunity going forward,” Silver said.
But those additional boards will also require a staff member who can provide technical support, Board Chairman Ed Hatley said.
The school system’s information technology services department is already understaffed, Hatley said, and the district needs to develop a comprehensive plan to install and support the new boards.
“I hope there’s a component to train teachers to use them more effectively,” Hatley said. “I don’t want to get the cart before the horse. Let’s make sure the teachers feel comfortable enough with the technology so they’ll get the most out of the equipment.”
Part of the funding Zickefoose found also includes money to cover the cost of one additional technology support position, but he said he hopes to look at the department more closely as he’s planning next year’s budget.
Burgin, who brought the idea to the board, said she’s glad to see the school system working to improve technology.
“It’s just time for it,” she said. “When students graduate, we’re putting them on a different playing field now, and we need to get them prepared.”
Until now, principals at each school have determined how money is spent on extras like technology. Some schools have more active parent organizations, and others have extra money from the state, so the digital boards have not been implemented equally across the district.
In eastern Lincoln County, Catawba Springs Elementary needs 13 boards, Rock Springs Elementary needs 21, St. James Elementary needs 9, East Lincoln Middle needs 28, East Lincoln High needs 49 and North Lincoln High needs 49.
North Lincoln Middle School already has boards in every classroom funded when the school was built.
The problem right now, Burgin said, is that some classrooms have them and some don’t.
“There’s a discrepancy,” she said. “The kids notice it, and they want to know why one class has one and others don’t. It’s time that changed.”