The Bartow County Board of Education on Monday will vote on a number of school technology purchases to be funded by the system’s Striving Readers Literacy Grant. Other items include the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax purchase of insurance for laptop computers students eventually will be allowed to take home.
“For our students in middle and high school who we anticipate taking these [Macbooks] home in the fall, we wanted to protect our investment,” Director of Technology Mark Bagnell said during last week’s work session. “We will actually be able to cover accidental damage and emergency work as well, but [also] protect against loss and theft.
“We’ve already had a teacher who had her laptop stolen out of her car. She had to come up with $1,000 to replace that laptop. What this coverage allows us to do with our investment is to allow that teacher to get that laptop replaced for $250 as a deductible and that same coverage is afforded to students and/or parents who are responsible for these laptops when they go home.”
He said the technology department anticipates a $50 annual usage fee on laptops students take home. The Daily Tribune News will provide more details on the usage fee, as well as if home computer use will be a requirement for students, when they become available.
“We have some brilliant teachers in our school system ... and [laptop use] is an avenue, it’s a tool to put in the child’s hand,” Superintendent John Harper said. “So many of our children have zero support for their academic education and improvement, in this county and all other counties in this United States. That gives them total charge of their education, with the support of their teacher.
“For those kids to depend on someone when they get home to help them with their math, it’s not happening. If 40 percent of our children are born to unwed mothers and less than 10 percent of our children have a natural mother and father at home for them, we have to do something different to get them to school every day and get them engaged in instruction.
“All the instruction they need will be carried in that [laptop] for them to be able to work and support themselves academically and give them some goals for graduation and for whatever kind of life they want out there.”
In other school news, the board is expected to soon vote on increasing school lunch and breakfast prices in order to meet the requirements of the United States Department of Agriculture’s School Lunch Program, which include requiring schools to provide more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains to students.
“We went up 10 cents last year and I’m proposing we go up to 15 cents next year to get us closer to [USDA requirements],” Nutrition Director Pam Blakeney said. “We have to at least get to $2.59 in the next few years and our average meal price now is $1.98.”
Blakeney also proposed a 10-cent increase to school breakfasts in order to help offset the cost of the additional food requirements as well as increasing the cost of adult lunches at each school to $3.
“Not only are we expecting price increases, we’re also expecting a cut in state funds to school nutrition,” Blakeney said.
The board will hold its regular business session Monday at 6 p.m. in the central office boardroom. For the meeting agenda, visit www.bartow.k12.ga.us.