Technology blends so seamlessly into daily life that it sometimes gets taken for granted.
But the desktops, laptops, tablets and electronic “smart” boards aren’t cheap and not having them will put a school at a disadvantage.
AdvancED, a national accrediting body that includes the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, recently placed DeKalb County Schools on accreditation probation. A few weeks earlier, Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson pledged that 100 percent of all classrooms would have interactive white boards, technology that some schools have already discarded in favor of personal tablets and computers.
AdvancED’s scathing report on the school system specifically singled out its weaknesses in technology.
“With only approximately 35 percent of the system’s schools equipped with some level of connectivity, the current technology system is woefully inadequate to support the complex needs of a large school system especially in anticipation of future requirements of the state-wide assessments,” the report says.
Local schools reported investing heavily in their technology infrastructure.
Tony Perez, director of technology and media at Atlanta Girls’ School, said the school provides a laptop for every student and was recently recognized as an Apple Distinguished School. The sixth grade students use iPads and seventh through 12th grade use MacBook Pro laptop computers. Seniors also have the option of purchasing the laptops.
Perez said he’s done away with the electronic smart boards. He said the boards weren’t suited to how girls’ learn best. They’re a clever bunch, he said. Some have even gotten root access to their computers, allowing them to bypass administrator restrictions.
It’s allowed, Perez said, as long as they follow the rules.
“We know who they are and we always make sure they’re working for good and not evil, and if they’re working for evil we take their laptop away from them,” Perez said.
All of the schools monitor computer use to some degree and have computer conduct policies in place for their students.
Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School also is an Apple school, according to spokeswoman Peggy Shaw. She said 100 percent of the classrooms have smart boards.
“Laptop computers are issued to students in fifth through 12th grades, and we have iPad carts available for pre-K through fourth-grade students,” Shaw said.
She said the school has budgeted approximately $200,000 for technology in the current fiscal year.
All of the classrooms at The Galloway School are outfitted with Promethean Boards and all classrooms have at least one computer.
Josh Weeman, Galloway’s director of technology, said the school has a one-to-four computer-to-student ratio and has currently budgeted $280,000 for technology. Weeman said the school would like to implement a one-to-one program to put MacBooks in the hands of all its fifth through 12th grade students.
Alan Preis, head of instructional technology at the Atlanta International School, said there are smart boards in all classrooms.
“Primary classrooms have access to laptop and iPad carts,” Preis said. “Our secondary laptop program began with grades six and seven this year and will expand to grades six through 10 next year.”
Caitlin Goodrich, spokeswoman for Pace Academy, said the school has a systematic upgrade program. All of the classrooms have computers or smart boards, usually both.
“Each year, 25 percent of the computers on campus are renewed,” Goodrich said. “Teacher laptops and notebooks are being refreshed this year, with teachers having a choice of a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. New iPad and laptop and notebook carts are also planned.”
The Lovett School also has an arsenal of technology in the classroom, according to spokeswoman Jen Sarginson.
All middle and upper school students and their teachers have laptops.
Colleen Glaude, Dean of Instructional Technology at The Westminster Schools, said technology makes up 6.6 percent of the school’s budget, and like many of the other schools, the classrooms are outfitted with smart boards. She said the school also has a one-to-one laptop program for students.
Mount Vernon Presbyterian School is a “completely wireless campus,” and every upper school student has a laptop.
“One of our goals is to keep costs down for our families while expanding the use of technology,” spokeswoman Allison Toller said. “This includes seeking out more online, web-based textbooks to eliminate the greater expense of printed books.”
Novelette Brown, spokeswoman for Marist School, said the school in 2012 gave all teachers Lenovo X230T tablet laptops. “During the summer of 2013 all students will be issued the Lenovo X230T for their use,” Brown said. “This will provide technological equality for all students during their years at Marist.”