Kingsport Times News Thursday, November 20, 2014

Education

Gifts to Hawkins schools will improve security, online testing technology

March 5th, 2014 11:21 pm by Jeff Bobo

Gifts to Hawkins schools will improve security, online testing technology

Rosie Bailey, Hawkins County Schools technology supervisor, holds up one of the cell phones every teacher in the system will be receiving. Jeff Bobo photo.

ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County Schools will benefit from some high dollar gifts to improve school security, as well as online state testing equipment.

Thanks to a gift from Verizon Wireless, nearly every employee within the Hawkins County Schools system will be equipped with a cell phone that dials directly to 911 in case other communications are cut off during an emergency.

Rosie Bailey, Hawkins County Schools technology supervisor, told the Board of Education Tuesday that she was approached by the school system’s new Verizon Wireless sales representative three weeks ago about providing the phones at no cost to the school system.

All teachers and teacher aides — as well as school administrators, cafeteria workers, custodians and SROs — will receive a cell phone that can be used to call 911 or other Verizon phones only.

“If we had an incident in the school in which all communication was cut off, each teacher or each staff member will be able to get to these phones in their classroom,” Bailey said. “These stay at school. They can take them out on the playground if they need to. Most (teachers) already have radios, but now they’re going to have two things.”

Aside from providing the phones, Verizon is also supplying chargers and a case to hook phones onto a person’s belt.

Bailey said she would begin distributing them to the schools today.

Verizon also discussed the possibility of providing those phones to bus drivers, and that option is now being considered as well.

That wasn’t the only technology windfall Bailey reported to the BOE Tuesday, however.

In December it was announced that Hawkins County Schools would be awarded $571,296 in one-time-only state funds from Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam to enhance technology needed for student online state testing.

Bailey told the BOE that the money arrived last week, and she outlined for the board what the money would be spent on.

“We have allotted this amount of money for equipment and wireless infrastructure,” Bailey said. “We were ahead of a lot of the systems. Since Mrs. Britton has been director she has allotted me money each year, and we knew this was coming down the pike, so we started putting our bandwidth and all of our switches up to date.”

Bailey added, “We were at an advantage that we could use this for equipment. A lot of the school systems are having to use it to get their infrastructure up. I feel like Hawkins County is in a good place, and when we get this (new equipment) added to our district we should be in good shape for years to come on student testing.”

Among the purchases are 180 student desktop computers; 475 student laptops; associated equipment to connect those computers to the Internet; and wireless infrastructure.

Bailey said all Hawkins County schools will be equipped with fiber-optic cable to provide higher speed for Internet usage and bandwidth to improve efficiency for classroom instruction.

The network infrastructure will be upgraded to increase speed for more efficient usage and to meet standards for state testing.

Updated computer equipment will meet state standards and equip educators with improved technology tools to implement in classroom instruction.

The classroom environment will be updated to include modem technology components such as “MacBooks,” iPads and iPods, and all 19 schools will have computer labs which are essential for online testing, student preparation, and classroom instruction.

The BOE voted unanimously in favor of authorizing Bailey to begin using the Haslam funding to purchase the new equipment.

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