Barker: Schools working to get technology in hands of students
By W. WINSTON SKINNER
Coweta County School Superintendent Dr. Steve Barker said pilot programs are under way that involve students using technology in schools – and he predicted that trend will grow.
Barker gave an update on the school system during the meeting of the Coweta County Development Authority Thursday.
Barker noted the electronic devices used by the business leaders sitting around the table in the CCDA board room.
While many teachers have been using technology more in their classrooms for several years, "getting that technology in the hands" of students is "one of the things we've worked on in the past two to three years," the superintendent said.
"Every school has a bring-your-own technology pilot. In time, I think it will just be a part of what we do in classrooms," Barker said.
Barker said upgrading computers is being accomplished with funds from the latest Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for education. "We're fiber connected at all of our schools," he noted.
Barker's overview focused on the economic impact of the system – ranging from its role as "the largest restaurateur in the county" to the power bills paid for schools and facilities.
The system has 3,000 employees. Barker spoke of "the job that our school-based staff do each day." He said, "It's a true team effort."
In addition to teachers, there are many other staff members who make schools function. "We've got a lot of moving parts," Barker said.
"Some of those parts don't deal with the academic" aspects of school life, he said. He spoke with pride of the 99 rating the cafeterias maintain.
He noted the schools have 13 sheriff's officers and five Newnan Police officers who serve as school resource officers.
"They do a lot. They train. They help direct traffic. One of their main roles is to develop relationships with students and faculty. They do a great job," he said.
Nurses in the 33 clinics in local schools "do a great job," Barker said. He said he has been a part of meetings recently to outline accommodations for students with various medical conditions.
"We've had a good start, and we're looking for great things this school year," Barker said.
Barker said he was headed from the development authority meeting to a gathering with school system leaders to discuss accreditation. He said the system is halfway through the current accreditation period and is looking at what needs to be done to prepare for the next one.
He said the system's enrollment is up. That is a good thing, he said, but added, "With that comes challenges."
Authority member Mike Barber talked about the importance of the school system in attracting industrial prospects. Education is always a topic about which prospects ask.
"We just stand out," Barber said.
Candace Boothby of the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce echoed Barber's comments. "Our education community is top notch," she said.