Whitley County Schools Planning Extensive Tech Upgrades

After a year of increasing bandwidth and other remote-learning adaptations, a Kentucky school district's new four-year technology plan includes new monitors, desktops, security features and other equipment.

(TNS) — The Whitley County School District is getting lots of new upgrades for the upcoming school year.

During Tuesday's meeting of the Whitley County School District Board of Education, Whitley County's Chief Information Officer Kevin Anderson unveiled the district's 2022-2025 technology plan which includes lots of new upgrades for the district.

Anderson began by discussing the highlights of the past year which included increased bandwidth amongst schools, adding more Chromebooks, replacing Smart Boards and getting Internet to the homes of students without. Anderson noted that the district was able to provide 592 students with internet at home this past year.

"Those are some key highlights that we've accomplished in the past year," he said. "Moving forward, always—you've heard me make comments more than once about the need to replace teacher stations. We've taken care of student devices. This last year we've taken care of student devices and right now our student-device ratio is great, it's better than it's ever been. What we're moving into and part of this technology plan, you all have got to see tidbits of that in classroom with the ViewSonic panels, this is a big thing we've been looking at and wanted to do for a long time for our staff. The Smart Boards in our district, some are 15 years old and some have older projectors that the quality is almost nonexistent at times. Through planning and a team effort, we are about to roll out 306 ViewSonic, 75-inch panels, just like you saw in that classroom, one for every teacher in the district."

Anderson said the district would also be supplying teachers with new monitors and desktops.

"It's time," Anderson said. "We, and when I say 'we' I mean the administration and this district, we are about to make major changes in this district that is going to change the lives of our teachers and our students."

Anderson said the installation of the new monitors has already started in some schools with the hopes of having every classroom upgraded before the start of the new school year.

During Tuesday's meeting, the board approved that the district move forward with their project with Musco Sports Lighting, LLC at the Whitley County Soccer Complex.

Superintendent John Siler said that while the complex had a lot of great features, including two soccer fields, lots of parking, a fieldhouse with locker rooms, a concession stand and restrooms, the one thing the complex lacks is lighting.

"We've talked to Musco about this project for the past couple years and now we feel like we're financially in the position to move forward with this project," Siler said.

Siler hopes that the lighting addition will help the soccer program to move forward, including allowing JV games to be played, as it is typically too dark to play by the time the varsity games have finished.

The board also approved the district to apply for another round of school safety and security funds, which Director of Pupil Personnel Patrick Bowling discussed with board members.

"In 2019, the legislature passed Senate Bill 1 and they mandated that we have certain things in place in regards to school security—doors that lock from the inside for teachers, access controlled video cameras, window coverings, things like that," he said.

Last year, the district received $111,000 to upgrade different areas in the school after completing a survey. This year, Bowling said the district would be requesting $102,688 from school safety and security funds to continue making improvements throughout the district.

In other board of education business:

  • Alfred Bunch was this month's Above and Beyond award recipient. Bunch is a former teacher for the district who returned after retirement as a crossing guard and as a part-time homebound teacher.

    "Mr. Bunch has absolutely done a great job," Siler said. "You'll see him standing at the crosswalk on our campus, waving and smiling and making sure kids get safely across parking lot. He's out there when it's raining, he's out there when it's cold. He has served our kids and then came out of retirement to continue to serve."

  • The board also recognized Veronica Carmical who was chosen to be highlighted for the KEA Upper Cumberland Marvelous Member Monday spotlight. She teaches Family and Consumer Science and specializes in Culinary Arts at Whitley County High School.

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