School board approves new computer purchases

School board approves new computer purchases by M. Jill Karolevitz Vermillion students will be using new computers this year, at every school in the district.

But that doesn�t mean that all the technology is being replaced. The district �recycles� its hardware and software, even when new equipment is brought in.

At Jolley School, students will be using a wireless mobile computer lab.

�Because the existing computer lab is being changed into a classroom, the computers will now come to the students, instead of them coming to the computer,� said Jim McGuire, technology coordinator for the Vermillion School District. �The mobile unit includes 25 computers, access points to the Internet and each student�s data, the cart itself and a printer.�

The �old� computers will be distributed among the individual classrooms at Jolley and Austin, for use by teachers and students.

At Vermillion Middle School, the tech modules lab will be completely revamped. The class is required for sixth- and seventh-graders. There they learn special technical skills, including the use of graphics and design.

�The tech modules lab computers are four years old,� McGuire said. �As you update module software, you have to update the computers, too.�

In addition to new computers and software, the VMS lab will get a projection unit and a new mini digital video camera.

The existing 13 computers will go to the library to be used for card cataloging, librarian stations and access to the Internet for students.

�Right now, the library has about six computers,� McGuire said. �So the additional machines will make it better for everyone.�

A wireless mobile computer lab is also planned for Vermillion High School. It will include 20 computers and related equipment and software.

�Right now we have three computer labs,� McGuire said. �Two are for computer instruction and they are full all day long. The other is a classroom that teachers from any class can bring their students in to use.�

The high school has 25 computers, �but there are too many teachers and students who need them,� McGuire said. �We don�t have enough room to add another lab, so the wireless mobile unit is the way we chose to go.�

The Vermillion School Board approved McGuire�s budget request for the new technology and its related components on June 11. It totaled $139,800.

�The technology committee makes all the major decisions regarding computers,� McGuire said. �It�s not something we take lightly. There are 20 people on the committee, and they work hard to formulate curriculum and what to purchase.

�We think computers need to be a part of the students� everyday life,� he continued. �At school or at home, they need to be comfortable with them and use them as a tool. First- and second-graders are already using them for writing assignments,

so keyboarding and using software become important at a very young age.�

The technology committee also decides how to get the most out of existing equipment.

�We do the best we can to get our dollars worth out of our computers,� McGuire said. �When we buy new computers, the old ones generally go to a classroom � wherever they can be used according to their capability. You don�t need the latest, greatest machine for everything. Little projects can use older equipment and software. After we use them for about five or six years, the computers are then surplused.�

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