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Hall County Schools Board approves SPLOST projects
Items aim to give schools and transportation more wireless, computers
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Hall County Schools SPLOST III Projects

Amount/project

$118,000 — Video cameras and radios for school buses
$500,000 — Putting 25 laptops and two laptop carts in 17 Hall schools
$88,028.82 — Purchasing four SharePoint servers as part one of the phase in of the new wireless cloud
$16,000 — Purchasing infrastructure, student devices and wireless access to accommodate the sixth grade at World Language Academy
$13,962 Installing six 55-inch televisions and Promethean slates in the advanced scholars classrooms at Riverbend Elementary School

Hall County School Board members see the Internet as an infinite textbook.

At the called meeting Monday, the board approved the SPLOST III request to increase students' access to this viable resource.

"In the next five years, you'll see most computer labs gone," said Aaron Turpin, technology director for Hall County Schools. "We have shifted from a model of students going into the lab to students having 24/7 access."

The five items on the special purpose local option sales tax request total more than $73,000, all of which are intended to give schools and transportation additional wireless, computers and technology.

The technology department will also be returning $800,000 to the SPLOST fund. Turpin said this was money that was allocated for spending, but the expenditures were covered from other sources.

"This will allow us to put two laptop carts with 25 machines total in each of our schools," Turpin said. "Hopefully next school year, there will be a per-enrollment allotment for schools so they can sit down with their leadership team and talk about what devices they need to achieve this. We've gone through this with our charter schools this year and it's been phenomenal."

The 17 schools receiving laptop carts under SPLOST III include Flowery Branch Elementary, Spout Springs Elementary, North Hall Middle and Johnson High. Turpin said these schools were chosen because they had not received hardware in the past two to three years.

The laptop carts will be in schools by the time students go back in August.

Hall County schools are also using SPLOST III funds to purchase four SharePoint servers, phase one of the transition to the software.

According to the request documents, SharePoint will replace Stoneware as Hall County's "fully scalable cloud solution" beginning in the fall. SharePoint software will allow Hall schools to align with their Race to the Top goals for creating blended learning environments, the documents state.

The Advanced Scholars Academy at Riverbend will receive one 55-inch television and one Promethean slate — a device allowing teachers to project on screens without having to be at a computer — per grade level in the school's six academy classrooms.

"They did not have the money for this. That program is not a charter and will not be getting any state funds," Turpin said.

He said Riverbend Principal Debra Smith will be recommending the school's Parent-Teacher Organization use its additional funds to purchase more student devices, such as laptops.

The World Language Academy, which for the first time will have a sixth grade this year, is also receiving SPLOST III funds to provide additional infrastructure and wireless access for the classes.

School buses will also see some of the SPLOST III money, as $118,000 is set to provide them with video cameras and radios.

"We want to provide additional resources for technology," Hall County School Board Chairman Nathan Morris said. "We need to show what we're doing and show how kids are using technology for education purposes.

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