As the 2011–12 school year wanes in Tabernacle, superintendent George Rafferty says changes are on the horizon, especially in the technology realm.
The Tabernacle School District is on a three-year technology plan, but with changes occurring so rapidly, Rafferty said now is the time to evaluate the methods of technology used in the schools.
“We’re moving our deadline for reviewing our plan and discussing where we want to go with technology up a year,” Rafferty said.
The district will have a meeting to decide what the next move will be before the school year ends, he said.
“Technology has changed so much,” he explained.
With the onset of tablet devices such as the iPad, schools around the country have revolutionized the resources that help students learn, he said.
One school in New Haven, Conn., purchased 200 iPads.
“We’re due for updating a lot of our computers,” he said. “We have nearly 400 of them in our schools,” between office staff, computer labs, media centers and classrooms.
The schools want to upgrade to Windows 7. Right now, they are still functioning on Windows XP.
Desktop computers, he said, are obsolete. Rather than spending money to purchase newer versions of desktops, Rafferty said the schools are considering spending some of the money allocated for technology on different forms of equipment, such as tablets, to be used to help with classroom instruction.
“If you can imagine … now with the new technology that is available to pull the students back, each of them holding an iPad or tablet,” he said. “The student can hold that device in their hands.”
Some desktops will need to be simply updated to newer desktops, he said, to accommodate the needs throughout the school. Teachers need desktops to operate the smart board devices and projectors.
“They need that computer in their classroom that they use for instruction to be the most up-to-date model,” he explained.
“Technology that can be used in schools if people are willing to get excited about it is just amazing,” he said. “It’s not an extra cost. We have one pile of money to spend on technology that’s budgeted.”
Administrators reappointed, guidance counselor turns full-time
The Kenneth R. Olson Middle School has historically always had a full-time guidance counselor. Tabernacle Elementary School has not. Currently, guidance counselor Kimberly White will come in on a part-time basis for a few hours a day certain days of the week and leave by midday, Rafferty said.
“There’s over 400 students at the Tabernacle Elementary School,” Rafferty said. “We need one in each building.”
At the April 23 board of education meeting, all administrators and outside service providers were reappointed for the 2012–13 school year, and White was promoted to full-time status.
Guidance counselors are a necessary part of the educational process, he explained. They are needed to deal with student crises and to investigate and explore harassment and bullying complaints.
White has done a great job in the schools, Rafferty said, and has a great working relationship with students, parents and staff.
“We look at this as a really important position in the schools,” he said. “For us, this was an obvious choice.”