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BoE takes a look at draft technology plan
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Effingham County Board of Education members got a look at a draft technology integration plan.

The plans are created for a three-year circle and are approved by the state Department of Education, according to Jeff Lariscy, the school system’s information technology coordinator. The plan is required for the system to receive e-rate funding, which pays for half of the district’s telecommunications charges, and to participate in the e-rate consortium

The school system has to have a vision for technology use, address its current access to technology and how it’s used and where it has holes in its technology needs, Lariscy said.

“A lot of the goals of the school improvement plan you’ll see in the technology plan because that is what we want to address increasing student achievement,” he said.

The plan will include benchmarks and strategies, along with an evaluation plan, budget and who is responsible for the various benchmarks. The plan must include professional development and acceptable use and Internet safety policies.

Goals must be set before the plan is worked on, Lariscy said.

“Some of these seem rather obvious — access to phone lines and auto dialers,” he said. “That has to be in there though for e-rate to fund it. If it’s not in your plan, e-rate will not fund it.”

Lariscy said network infrastructure upgrades are included, along with the goal to have more wireless capability. The plan also includes having anti-virus measures on all desktop computers, along with a content filter, which is required by e-rate.

He said the plan also includes providing equitable access to computers, which is determined by a gap analysis that takes an inventory of every computer at a school.

The plan also includes providing students access to resources. High school and middle school students have such access but it has not been extended to the elementary school levels yet.

“Individual student logins is a goal,” Lariscy said. “We have enough trouble having students remember at those two levels what their user name and passwords are.

“A goal that I hope we can achieve this year is to provide students with e-mail accounts so they can better communicate with teachers via e-mail and also learn e-mail etiquette.”

Lariscy said a prioritized goal in the district is to increase interactive technologies. Currently, the district purchases interactive equipment for five classrooms at each elementary school, 10 classrooms at each middle school and 15 classrooms at each high school.

Some schools have been able to supplement their funds with money from book fairs and other sources to complete deployment.

Teachers also are being trained to use the technology. Greg Miles “has been working feverishly one on one with teachers,” Lariscy said, “to get these interactive technologies working to their maximum benefit in the classroom, and provide that comfort level teachers need to use it. Not only that but this summer he has pretty much taken over our training facilities at the Board of Education.”

Lariscy said the system is working to use existing technology more efficiently, including the use of interoperability framework to reduce clerical time. He said the system is also working to increase awareness of Internet safety.

“We’re looking at using the I-safe community for teachers and students, and extending that out into the community for parents as much as possible,” he noted.

He told board members about an e-mail from a principal asking about the installation of more interactive classroom technology.

“The teachers there are looking for the stuff,” Lariscy said. “Test scores there are up 14 points, and they attribute it to interactive technologies that were deployed in those classrooms this year.”