Dallas County High School gets high tech

Published 6:27 pm Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More than ever, teachers and students in the Dallas County Schools system have become tech savvy and are using computers as learning tools.

The system has so many computers, as a matter of fact, it’s having trouble keeping up with them all.

School officials reported at the system’s board meeting this week that the number of computers and the use they get are up over the past seven years.

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Unfortunately, the county hasn’t had the budget room to provide adequate tech support.

“We’re getting a lot of computers in place, and that’s good. We’re getting a lot of computers into the classroom,” said Terry Grissom, the system’s technology coordinator. “If you talk to teachers about technology, you may have people saying ‘You know, we got all these computers, but I can’t get this one to work, or this one won’t print.’”

Grissom says that is mainly because of understaffing in the technology department. In addition to Grissom, there is one Internet technician and two services technicians for the entire school system.

Grissom said to meet basic industry standards, seven more people need to be hired.

“We’re just doing the best we can with what we have, “Grissom said. “That means for many of the classroom teachers, the current response time for when a work order is submitted to when it is completed is about 40 days.”

Grissom likened the school system’s situation to fitting 630 people into a 30-person elevator.

According to Superintendent Fannie Major-McKenzie, several teachers have expressed concerns about the available technology since 2001.

In a presentation during the board meeting, Grissom showed the county is ahead of the state average in several areas, including the number of teachers that use the Internet in their lesson plans and teaching and students who use electronic equipment for presentations or homework.

The information came from a teacher survey taken in the spring regarding where schools presently stand as far as technology.

There are now 1,400 more computers in classrooms than in 2001.

There are also 43 Promethean Boards in place system-wide. The interactive teaching tools replace conventional whiteboards, using projectors to provide instant visual learning and feedback to students.