District applies for $900,000


Funds would be used to buy digital devices

By Derik Vanderford - dvanderford@civitasmedia.com



By Derik Vanderford

dvanderford@civitasmedia.com

UNION COUNTY — The Union County School District has applied for state funding that could be used to purchase digital devices for each student in grades 6-12 district-wide to use in the classroom.

During Monday evening’s meeting of the Union County Board of School Trustees, Tim Barnado of the district’s technology department spoke to the board about possible participation in the state’s Digital Device Pilot Project.

Barnado said the state has $4.5 million of carry-over funds to be allocated to six different school districts. Barnado received permission from the board to apply for a portion of those funds, which would further the Union County School District’s digital device pilot project which began during the last school year. Barnado said he applied for the funds on Tuesday.

The first phase of the project included sixth grade classes district-wide — at Sims, Lockhart and Jonesville middle schools — receiving touch screen laptops. Students were each able to use a laptop while teachers had identical devices to use for teaching.

Barnado said he received very positive feedback from 6th grade instructors from surveys that were distributed.

“The surveys covered how much the devices were being used; how well they were being used; and specifically asked if there were discipline issues with the devices,” Barnado said. “We resoundingly heard the discipline was either exactly the same or — in around 70 percent of cases — discipline was actually better while students were actively engaged with devices.”

Barnado said the students used the devices respectfully and responsibly, and he praised teachers for everything they have done so far in that area. He said teachers were extremely pleased and are ready to move forward with the pilot project.

The district has applied for around $900,000 of the state’s carry-over funds, which would purchase around 1,630 new devices and would allow for each student in grades 6-12 — at Union County High School, Sims Middle School, Jonesville Elementary/Middle School and Lockhart School — availability to the devices.

“We plan on leaving them in the classrooms on a cart for storage and security,” Barnado said. “We would work on implementing plans for them to eventually take them home, but for right now, we are looking at them just staying in the classrooms at school.”

“This would be a definite head up for the district,” Barnado said about the technological possibilities for the district. “We’re excited about it. We hope it comes out for the best. It would definitely be a big thing for the district if the funding comes through.”

Barnado reiterated that the board only approved for him to apply for the extra funding.

“If we don’t get the money, we will still get the governor’s original allocation, and regardless, we will get new machines for the high school,” he said. “But if we do get the money, we will get a true one-to-one, digital-device-per-student setup.”

As part of his presentation, Barnado also informed the board that the district is compliance with the CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act), with protection in place.

Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-762-4128 or dvanderford@civitasmedia.com.

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Funds would be used to buy digital devices

By Derik Vanderford

dvanderford@civitasmedia.com

Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-762-4128 or dvanderford@civitasmedia.com.

Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-762-4128 or dvanderford@civitasmedia.com.

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