|Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - August 2009
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Computer program expanding into THS
Trinity Standard - August 2009
TRINITY – Trinity High School students are expected to receive an early Christmas gift later this year when the Trinity school system provides them with laptop computers to assist with their studies.
During their meeting Monday July 27, the Trinity School Board announced that the district had been awarded a grant to expand its laptop computer program into the high school grades.
Like the program begun last year for sixth, seventh and eighth graders, during the coming school year all Trinity High School students will be issued a laptop computer they can use at school and home to complete their school work. While the students will have to return the computers at the end of the school year, they will be able to use it to access the internet as well as email homework assignments to their teachers.
Under the Vision 20/20 Cycle 2 grant program, the Trinity Independent School District (TISD) has been awarded a $487,000 grant from the state to purchase 320 laptop computers. While the bulk of the money will be used to purchase the equipment, some of the grant funds will be used to set up the program and train the high school teaching staff how to make use of the computers.
Last year TISD obtained 300 laptops under the Vision 20/20 Cycle 1 program for use by students at the intermediate and middle school campuses.
“This will mean that every student in grade six through 12 will have a laptop,” TISD’s Director of Technology Brian Furbee told the school board Monday night.
Furbee, who wrote the grant applications for both the Cycle 1 and 2 programs, won praise from the board for his work in obtaining the funding and for setting up the program.
Board member Steve Tyler noted that TISD was one of only 17 school districts in Texas to win Cycle 2 funding out or more than 200 that applied.
“You must be doing something right,” Tyler told Furbee. “Keep up the good work.”
As part of their meeting Monday, the board also voted to seek proposals for the purchase of the 320 new laptops.
Furbee said he had been in contact with a number of computer makers earlier that day and they were all anxious to submit bids for the equipment.
Under the current schedule, Furbee said he expects to begin issuing computers to sixth, seventh and eighth graders in early to mid November.
The program at the high school is expected to begin soon after that with the computers being issued to students no later than mid-December.
Under the high school laptop program, Furbee said that Tom Sample will be giving up most of his instruction duties and will become the technology facilitator for the campus.
“He’ll still be teaching a couple of classes but most of his time will be spent with this program,” Furbee said.
Sample will be helping students and teachers with hardware and software malfunctions and other issues that arise connected with the laptop program.
While students at Lansberry Elementary School will not be receiving laptops to carry home, that campus will be receiving additional computers for use by students at school.
Furbee noted that the influx of laptop computers at the high school will mean that some of the other machines now in place can be moved.
He noted that he has a cart with 15 computers that is ready to move from the high school to Lansberry and that two carts, each containing 20 computers, also will be moved in the near future – one to Lansberry and the other to the intermediate campus for use by fifth graders.
Meal prices increased
During the meeting, the board approved the new student handbook which included provisions for a 25 cent increase in the cost of student breakfasts and lunches.
The cost of the meals will go from 75 cents to $1 for breakfast and from $2 to $2.25 for lunch beginning when school starts on Aug. 24.
During discussions held earlier during their budget workshop, it was noted the increase was needed to offset increases in food costs that the school has absorbed for the past two to three years.
Business Manager Kevin Parish told the board that while the 25 cent increase in the meal costs would not offset the projected $90,000 loss in the cafeteria fund, it would add about $39,000 in income during the coming year.
Parish also had suggested that the cost of staff meals be increased from $3 to $4 but the board rejected the idea, noting they were trying to increase teacher benefits in the upcoming budget.
Among the benefits the board is eyeing to provide teachers during the coming year is an increase in the amount the district pays for insurance coverage, providing special stipends to teachers in “critical areas” such as math and science and paying additional stipends to teachers who serve as coaches for the University Interscholastic League (UIL) academic contests.
While these added benefits are still being discussed as part of the budget process for the coming year, the board noted that under a new state law, teachers will receive an additional $800 each in federal stimulus funds during the coming year.
Because this funding will not be made available for more than one – possibly two years – the board is reluctant to add the $800 to the teacher’s salary.
“Once it becomes part of the salary, its there forever,” one board member noted.
Instead, they are looking at the possibility of paying each teacher a $400 “bonus” before Christmas and a $400 “bonus before the end of school.
During the meeting, the board also:
• Accepted the resignations of Stephanie Gray, Christina Jowell and Patrick Carter.
• Offered one-year probationary contracts to high school teacher/coach Jazette Jenkins, band director Courtney Bonfils, high school Spanish I teacher Mark Malecek, high school science teacher James Blackmon, building trades teacher Scott Pesl, high school physics teacher James Boren, high school geometry teacher/coach Phillip Russell, high school chemistry teacher Tommy Sewell, English teacher/coach Abby Sellers, elementary teacher Hannah Boehm, elementary teacher Lindi Grall and elementary teacher Carol Munch,.
• Met with Dr. Larry Phillips and Phillip Johnson from Angelina College in Lufkin concerning the dual credit courses offered at Trinity High School. Under the dual credit course program, THS students can obtain both high school and college credit for advanced courses being offered through AC. The school board is looking at expanding the program to allow students to earn additional college credits and Phillips and Johnson outlined the steps needed and agreed to work with the board on the program.
• Received disciplinary reports from the four campuses.
• Renewed the school district’s property and automobile insurance with Integra Group of Huntington.
• Agreed to call for proposals for the maintenance of the athletic grounds.
• Accepted bids from Overhead Door of Huntsville, Robert Painting of Riverside and Ferrara’s Air Conditioning of Lufkin to renovate the district Alternative Education Program (AEP) building which was damaged earlier this year by a fire.
• Approved the new cheerleader constitution.