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Hall schools have $10 million technology wish list
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GAINESVILLE — The Hall County school system has a $10.6 million technology wish list.

Aaron Turpin, who is about to take over as the district’s technology chief, talked Saturday with the Board of Education about a variety of projects, some high-dollar and some becoming more urgent than others, throughout the system.

A brief summary includes:

$3.4 million for laptop computers for high school, elementary and middle school faculty and staff. The district has distributed laptops to middle school teachers; the amount takes into account future hires because of growth.

$5.3 million for innovative classroom technology, such as computerized, interactive whiteboards.

Through a federal no-interest loan program, the school system is putting 37 whiteboards throughout Lyman Hall Elementary School.

$761,040, computer replacement.

$175,000, router replacement at all schools.

"We’re at a five-year point and the (routers) are failing," said Turpin, currently serving as Lyman Hall’s principal. "We’re about to get behind the eight ball on that."

Will Schofield, superintendent of Hall County schools, said that administrators weren’t necessarily asking for money from board members, who met Saturday in the board’s annual retreat, but to show them the extent of technology needs.

He added that school officials could develop a three-year "plan of action" that could include financing from different sources, including a lease-purchase and the district’s 1-cent sales tax program.

Schofield said the system has plenty of other, non-technology needs, referring to a hand-out that detailed numerous pending or completed projects.

"This is an impressive triage list we’ve got going on," he said.

Board Chairman Richard Higgins asked Turpin if all the funding was available, could the work be done in a year. Turpin said yes, with electrical work being the only potential obstacle, in terms of scope and cost.

"It’s the big unknown," Turpin said.

Higgins said the system has spent a lot of money on athletics.

"Maybe what we need to do is make technology ... our No. 1 priority," he said.

Schofield said "it is a passion of mine to find more ways to get technology in the classroom."

He added that a common theme among teachers is that "we have kids who are in the digital age and we have just two computers in the classroom."

Turpin said that many families have computers in their home.

He said that’s the case for one of every four families at Lyman Hall, a typically poorer district with mostly Latino students.

And children are taking very well to technology.

"Kids are savvy," Turpin said. "That’s the biggest divide we have to conquer."