Sampson Independent

Sampson board eyes tech, future

As technology continues to improve each year, Sampson County Schools is working to keep pace.

The matter was discussed during a Tuesday work session for the Board of Education. Belva Lovitt, coordinator of media services, presented an update to officials which included the ages of devices such as desktops, tablets and laptops. More than 980 devices have been around for nine years or longer and it would cost $661,000 to replace them. These devises were referred to as “legacy” computers.

“That’s a low average, because I’m using a low average of $500,” Lovitt said about devices used by students, staff, administrators and teachers.

More than half of the computers in the 9 and older are in high schools. The total was 495, followed by elementary schools with 243, and middle school at 153. Administration official use more than 90.

In addition to the legacy computers, 5,700 devices are 6 to 8 years, while another 5,004 have been used for about five years. Lovitt said some of issues effecting instructional time with slower speeds, media streaming and time spent repairing computers, which comes with cost and replacing parts.

“Technology is a tool,” she said. “It’s not a teacher, it’s a tool. So when you take a tool that not working, what does it do to our teachers. It makes them frustrated.”

It was also noted that a lot of printers in high schools were not compatible with the latest Windows 10 technology because the drivers can’t be updated. In 2020, Lovitt said Windows 7 will no longer be supported and that the district held on to old technology such as Windows XP for too long, which was vulnerable to viruses.

“We’re going to run into that same problem in 2020 because they’re not going to be supported with the patches and fixes,” she said.

Some of the listed benefits of new technology include quicker access to information and having computers that new teachers are used to working with. For new projectors, the cost of one bulb is about one fourth of the cost for an older one. Listed instructional opportunities include robotics, 3D printing, video conferencing and collaboration.

Board Chair Tim Register wanted to make sure that attention was being placed on the other 10,000 and more devices, not just the legacy.

“We have to see what the kids have to work with to make the most intelligent decision,” Register said while requesting a detailed inventory of device types.

Officials said schools often receive computer types such as HP Streams which will last less than a desktop computer. Many of them are awarded through grants such as Donors Choose, which supports projects for teachers. While discussing the matter with Dr. Wesley Johnson, assistant superintendent of instructional services, and Lovitt, Board Member Telfair Simpson described it as putting a Band-Aid to fix a need for devices.

“At some point, you need to start getting rid of some of these machines because it is wearing your technicians out,” Register said “It’s like keep an old car that you got to have in your garage every week.”

Johnson added that computers come with the dilemma of buying $900 for a machine that’s going to last six to 10 years or $300 for device that’s going to last a few years. Lovitt said the trade off includes less time with maintenance.

One of the future goals is to replace 2008 Window 7 devices to provide better speed, management and security. Upcoming projects in the summer include a phone server upgrade, security and computer lab updates.

“We got a very busy summer,” Lovitt said. “Our techs hit the ground running as soon let out.”

Officials from Sampson County Schools review school matters during a Tuesday meeting. from Sampson County Schools review school matters during a Tuesday meeting.

By Chase Jordan

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.