"This is a grant that is going to allow us to impact a large number of students," Director of Elementary Curriculum Buffy Williams said during a recent presentation. "... It is a three-year grant, however, when they awarded the grant, they ... said from April to June you get 20 percent of all the money and you can start taking it out of the different pots to start buying the things you need for implementation. Then the same board would like for you to come back with your year-one plan in late June so they can award in July, so all the money doesn't start flowing down to us all at once."
The schools that will see funding from the grant are Clear Creek, Cloverleaf, Emerson, Hamilton Crossing, Kingston and White elementary schools as well as South Central and Cass middle schools and Cass High School. The system's STARS Pre-K program, which will be facilitated into 10 local schools in fall 2012, also will see funding.
Williams explained Adairsville Middle School will see a 1-to-1 ratio of students to computers as the school is being built and in August and September the system will be applying for another Striving Readers Literacy Grant to be used at the remaining county schools.
"So, with the planning grant funding, that money is available now, then at year-one we'll go through with the application phase, then we'll go through year-two and year-three," Williams said.
The budget from birth to pre-k is $316,000, the budget for the six elementary schools is $1.6 million, the two middle schools will receive $1.1 million and the high school will receive $756,000. Five percent of the money will go toward technology training for faculty.
"I think it's real important to get in their hands teacher computers so they can go home over the summer, start learning to play with it, and just using it to learn," Williams said.
The technology purchases include Macbook Air computers for teachers as well as document cameras and interactive projectors for classrooms.
"All classrooms that do not receive an interactive white board will receive an interactive projector so that will put all of our classrooms involved in this plan into the 21st century," she said.
There also will be the purchase of supplemental pre-k, elementary, middle and high school literacy assessments.
The year-one overview calls for two Apple desktops for each of the 16 pre-k classrooms in the county as well as portable Apple labs for Excel Christian Academy and Trinity Day School.
"[Excel Christian Academy and Trinity Day School] are our two outreach areas we chose to go with, they're accredited SACS schools in our district, we wanted to reach out to the community so if a child leaves one school, goes to another school and comes back, they're used to the same equipment and the same expectations," Williams said. "We wanted to keep track of some of the information and data as far as the assessment pieces with how students are doing ... and we wanted to make sure they are accredited schools we deal with."
New technology also includes the Blackboard system which will allow teachers, for example, to post student grades and lesson plans online and for students to download assignments then email them back to the teachers.
The plan calls for the purchase of student laptops for all fourth- and fifth-grade students as well as Tumble Readers -- an electronic library.
"I know a lot of people are thinking, 'what are they doing -- year-one, year-two, year-three,' and I'd like to introduce everything in the first year and for year two and year three we go deeper."
Middle schools will receive Macbook Air computers for all sixth-grade students and the high schools will receive the same for freshmen.
"The first year we'll be training the students on appropriate use, how to carry them, how to use them, their usage policy. We'll be establishing a parental policy so that parents know when we begin to send them home that they have a responsibility as well for the cost, but at this point in the first year, we want to keep [the computers] in the building," Williams said. "... Depending on how that process goes, we might send [the computers] home the second year, it just depends on how ready we are as a [school system]."
The Daily Tribune News will provide details on how Cartersville City Schools, who also received a Striving Readers Literacy Grant, will use their funding.