Peach BOE discusses grant to upgrade school technology

Peach BOE discusses grant to upgrade school technology

jmink@macon.comSeptember 24, 2013 

FORT VALLEY -- The Peach County school district is preparing to submit a grant proposal for federal Race to the Top grant funds, which would partially be used to bring more technology into classrooms.

If approved, the four-year grant will be from $4 million to $10 million and will assist in training teachers, improving technology, retaining and establishing programs and bringing in additional employees.

“This lets us continue to do the good things we’re already doing, and move us from good to great,” Gail Swain, district director of grants and administrative services, said Tuesday during a Board of Education work session.

The main goal is to provide more personalized learning for students, an initiative that both Peach County and the state department of education recently have been pushing, officials said. The grant would provide more training and endorsement opportunities for teachers in gifted education, learning intervention, education for students who do not speak English well, co-teaching and other areas.

It would help prepare students for life after high school, establish more career awareness programs, retain the high school graduation coach, bring in middle school coaches, and implement more summer programs and more project-based learning.

Then there’s the technology push. The grant would be used to improve infrastructure for more technology, add Kindles and digital books in classes, hire additional learning support and instructional technology employees and continue to train teachers about technology. The application deadline is Oct. 3, and officials expect to find out whether it is approved by the beginning of 2014.

The grant also would implement teacher adviser programs, which already are in place in Byron Middle School. Starting this semester, every teacher at the school has about 16 students he or she advises throughout the year. Teachers meet one-on-one with students, discussing their grades, behavior, test scores and other topics, officials said.

“It’s our dream that we could get this funded,” Superintendent Joe Ann Denning said about the grant. “But if not, we will continue to push in this direction for our students.”

Additionally, the district is expanding its online courses. By switching to a new online course provider, the district will offer more online classes, including online Advanced Placement courses, to students, Swain said.

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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