Hartselle City Schools adds technology upgrades to budget

For the first time ever, Hartselle City Schools is planning budget money for technology upgrades in its proposed $31.84 million budget for 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Tim Southerland, director of technology for the system, said he’s never been asked to prepare a budget or a technology plan before this year.

“While I’ve been here, we’ve never had a technology budget,” Southerland said. “If we needed to replace computers, usually a principal had to pay for it out of their Coke machine money.

“The only other way we got new computers was to go to somewhere like Mountain Brook, get their old computers and put a Band-Aid on them for us to use,” Southerland said.

School Superintendent Vic Wilson asked Southerland to prepare a technology plan, which includes a plan for replacing computers and Internet networks at each of the schools. Of the $280,000 budgeted for technology, $130,000 will be used to replace between 250 and 300 computers.

Southerland said they would replace the oldest machines first and would work their way toward the newest computers.

“We have many computers that are still using Windows XP,” Southerland said. “We need to move toward using Windows 7.”

In addition to replacing the computers, Southerland is also allocating $150,000 each year to network replacement. Most of the networks infrastructure is at least 10 years old, he said.

He said plans to let that account build up so that the school system will have the funds to spend to replace the networks on a timely schedule. A network replacement could cost between $850,000 and $1 million.

Wilson said he plans to give every school $7,500 to use for technology. It’s Wilson’s hope that every teacher in the system will have an iPad to use at school.

He added that school fundraisers could then be used to help the school purchase apps and software for the teachers to use on the iPads.

“What we want to do is to provide the infrastructure so that the teacher can utilize that technology,” Wilson said.

School librarians will also receive a $2,000 supplement to help them upgrade technology in the media centers.

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