Lanett City Schools approves tech plan

Published 9:00 am Thursday, November 11, 2021

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At their Monday meeting, the Lanett City Board of Education approved a Lanett City School District technology plan, presented by technology director Whittany Nolen.

Nolen said the school system does need assessments based on current inventory, staff member surveys, and traffic graphs, which examine how many devices stay connected to the internet at a given time. Based on need assessments, she said LCS has come up with three goals and a couple of objectives to go with them.

“Our first goal is to engage and empower the learner through technology,” she said. “We have two objectives that go with that — our first objective is that our students will demonstrate, to use critical thinking skills, to plan and conduct research, prepare reports, and complete assignments and projects using these devices collaboratively.”

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In order to allow students to do these things, Nolen said LCS wants to continue purchasing Chromebooks to keep up with them getting damaged or aging out, as well as to keep up with a growing student population.

Nolen said LCS aims to maintain and provide technology throughout the building, including not just Chromebooks but also items such as Promethean boards to display content to classes.

Another objective, Nolen said, is to have students effectively collaborate and communicate using various forms of technology.

“So one way that we’re going to continue to do this is to continue to have our access courses,” she said. “Right now, we have access courses at the high school and at the junior high.”

Nolen said LCS’s second goal is to prepare and support teachers and leaders to graduate college and career-ready students.

“So the first objective is that our teachers will be able to collaborate and use technology and digital resources to provide standard-based instruction and authentic learning activities,” she said. “And so the way that we plan to do this is to provide professional development for our teachers.”

Nolen said the district has purchased an on-demand training system called OTIS. Whenever teachers need help understanding something pertaining to professional development, they can go to OTIS to watch training videos. Nolen gave examples of teachers needing help with Google Sheets and ActivInspire. Teachers can also be assigned training through the system, and they can use it to get certification in Google, Microsoft, and a couple of other areas.

Nolen said LCS would promote teachers using interactive technology such as whiteboards and Chromebooks.

“Our next objective is that all instructional leaders will collaborate to provide digital age leadership and management to continually improve and organize, organization through effective use of technology,” she said.

Nolen said LCS now uses PowerSchool SIS, which allows parents, students and teachers to see student information such as attendance, grades, and test scores.

She said LCS’s final goal is for its internet and devices to be working and for educators and students to be able to use them. This includes making educators aware of online tools and resources.

She said that to maintain and improve internet connectivity, the district has replaced old cabling, replaced old switches, created new Wi-Fi access points, and almost doubled bandwidth at W. O. Lance Elementary School.

Nolen said the technology plan, once approved, would last for the next three years. She said in an interview that it also had to be approved by the state.

During the superintendent’s report, LCS Superintendent Jennifer Boyd said Lanett High School will have its Lanala pageant on Nov. 20, at which Mr. and Mrs. LHS will be announced. Additionally, she said several JROTC will participate in the city’s Veterans Day program on Thursday. She said school would be closed on this day.

Boyd said that during October, LCS recorded nine total student cases of COVID-19. So far, there have been no recorded student or staff cases in November. She reminded listeners that LCS’s COVID numbers could be viewed online at the Alabama Department of Public Health’s K-12 COVID-19 dashboard.

Several projects are underway or planned throughout the school system. Boyd said LCS is almost done with a window replacement project for the junior high school and high school. They also have a bid opening date set for a roof project for these schools. LCS is planning a major HVAC project for the middle school and high school.

Additionally, they plan to install air conditioning in the junior high school’s gym.

Another HVAC project is planned for W. O. Lance Elementary School.