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Gainesville City Schools now more dependent on technology
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Gainesville City Schools, like many districts, has moved more and more to multiple computing devices and away from desktop machines.

The district has 6,768 devices, said Keith Palmer, technology director. That includes everything from smartphones to desktop computers.

The district also is encouraging students to bring their own devices to school, he said.

Palmer noted that when he started, Gainesville had about 100 computing devices.

The district’s technology has changed completely — two or three times — in his 23 years in the job, he said.

To support all of today’s devices, the district has Wi-Fi access in every classroom, with more infrastructure available if needed.

Part of the push for more devices is due to a statewide goal to do all testing online.

All devices in the system, Palmer said, “have got to work with testing.”

Georgia is planning to do all school tests online within another three years, though problems with technology at the state level have led to changes in testing requirements.

Gainesville schools had only minor glitches with online testing this past year, but the district must still have the capability to do all testing online.

One of the newest additions in the city schools, Palmer said, are 70-inch flat screen TVs. Those provide brighter pictures than AV projections, he said.

Technology powers most of the school operations, he said, “even the clocks.”

The district’s technology department includes nine people, including himself, Palmer said. Each school has a technician with an office in the school. That cuts down travel time and lets the technician get to know the school building and staff.

“I wanted somebody onsite who could fix it right then,” he said.

The department has a budget of about $1.2 million, but that does not include salaries and benefits for employees.

Upcoming projects for the department include work at new construction for the school district, an addition at Centennial Arts Academy and the new elementary school in the Mundy Mill subdivision.

“We want to make sure we have the latest technology in the schools,” Palmer said.

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