Technology a priority in city BOE capital plan

By NICOLE SMITH
Posted 11/8/19

Jasper City Schools is continuing to fulfill a commitment to provide cutting edge technology for students.  

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Technology a priority in city BOE capital plan

Posted

Jasper City Schools is continuing to fulfill a commitment to provide cutting edge technology for students.  

The city school board recently approved a five-year capital plan with nine priorities, five of which involve an investment in computer system infrastructure.

Approximately $300,000 has been budgeted each year through 2024 to keep computer systems updated.

"Susan Chandler (technology coordinator) does a good job of keeping us on the cutting edge of technology. It's not just about the desktops, laptops and iPads," Superintendent Dr. Ann Jackson said. "It's switches, fiber, cable, software and hardware, security protection — everything that we have associated with our networking."

She added, "We always try to keep our technology current. That's typically a big chunk of our capital plan. It's an investment to make sure that our kids have access."    

Renovating the high school's baseball field and building a new track and tennis area at Jasper High School is also part of the capital plan.

Jackson said Warner's Athletic Construction will be working on the new baseball field, but the company is currently waiting on contracts to get started on the field's surface.

There isn't a timeframe for when the project will be finished and rain will likely play a factor in completing the field. In the event the field is not ready for gameplay when baseball season begins, the first few games have been scheduled away.

The school system is hopeful that the latter part of the baseball season will be played on the new field.

Grading and dirt work is completed for work to begin on the track and tennis area, but recent rains have delayed the project.

Installation for the baseball field and turf will cost a reported $1.75 million, while the tennis and track project will cost $5.5 million. 

The next item on the capital plan's agenda is installing new sections of roofing at Maddox Intermediate School, at an estimated cost of $750,000.  

In 2021, the school system may embark on a relocation of its central office to the old Walker High School. The project's estimated cost is nearly $2 million.

If the central office were to move from 17th Street West to the old high school, it would not impact current programs in place at the school, such as alternative school.

Jackson said flooding concerns and a lack of space continue to be driving factors in a potential move. 

"Our central office really is spread out because this building is not adequate for the entire central office staff," she said.

In previous years, classroom additions at T.R. Simmons Elementary and Memorial Park Elementary schools were always part of the school system's capital plan, but those projects have been removed this year. Jackson said the additions are not needed at this time but can easily be added back to future capital plans if enrollment were to increase.

One item on last year's capital plan that has paid off for the school system is the high school's new football field. The field features a new turf playing surface and a video scoreboard. 

"It's been remarkable. It has brought the community together. People have been so excited about it. They still talk about it," Jackson said. "As we have traveled this year to other schools, most of them have turf, and we've had a lot of people calling us because they like the way our design is. It's been great. It's been a source of pride for our community and certainly for our athletic program and kids."