The technology cost will increase by about $526,600 if another group of purchases are approved by the school board during its meeting tonight.
Board Member Brett Bittner, who has a background in technology, said he’s particularly excited about the Project Engage pilot.
It is an initiative the board will consider approving with a purchase of $45,000 in desktop computers, software and furniture to benefit 50 seventh-grade students.
“The innovation of such a program within Marietta City Schools could be something that really sets us apart from other systems, as well as other education options,” he said. “I anxiously await the results from the pilot’s results in terms of the achievement by the students who take part.”
Project Engage will access what educators refer to as a blended learning environment, combining the use of both technology and a teacher to instruct students.
Bittner does have some questions about the purchase of a $227,309.78 DELL Blade Center System, which is a computer server with storage space, from Lockstep Technology Group in Duluth.
He is curious how the district has outgrown its current system and what the new system will provide for Marietta students in terms of student achievement and its alignment with their strategic plan for academics.
The almost $230,000 cost will pay for the hardware, software, installation and other services, plus three years of maintenance and three years of subscriptions for the entire district. SPLOST III funds will pay for it.
The system now in use will be moved to serve Marietta High School.
The board also will look at purchasing 350 laptops with three-year warranties from DELL for $242,550 for A.L. Burruss, Dunleith, Lockheed, Park Street and West Side elementary schools, Marietta Middle School and Marietta High School.
The final technology related purchase is for a $12,800 contract to buy an iPad system for West Side Elementary School, which includes a learning lab with 20 iPads, other equipment and insurance.
All of these purchases will be funded by SPLOST III, a charter grant, school money or a small portion of the General Fund.
“(The board) determined that technology in our schools is an important priority, and it is our responsibility to ensure that these purchases align with our strategic planning goals, meet our students’ needs and efficiently utilize taxpayer funds,” Bittner said.
He believes that it will take diligence on the part of the board, though, to ensure that they are not implementing technology for the sake of technology, while making sure they don’t purchase equipment that will be obsolete before its life cycle is complete.
David Digiovanni, the district’s director of technology, said purchasing this equipment will add to Marietta’s 4,311 devices in use at this time. There are 8,102 students enrolled in Marietta City schools.
It’s a continued effort for Marietta City to work toward a one-to-one ratio for computing devices, which is part of the district’s technology goals adopted by the school board in February.
Request by local school
In other business, the board will consider approving a request from the School Governance Team at West Side.
The school is asking the board to OK the conversion of three general education teachers to create a certified science and technology instructor and gifted teacher, and a dance and drama teacher.
According to the board agenda, the team says this change will decrease class sizes, expand the school’s dance and drama programs for third- through fifth-graders and increase the percentage of students exceeding standards in various subject areas.
The combined work session and voting meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and is in the central office boardroom, 250 Howard St. in Marietta.