In a conversation with Superintendent of Schools Steve Benton, the TIMES discussed the planned implementation of “Digital Classrooms” within the Jackson County School System. Although he was busy bouncing between schools and graduation exercises, he was gracious enough to pause for our interview. According to Benton, the system will begin next fall, under the next budget, for all county students in grades K-3. This system is mandated by the state DOE to cover the entire system in three years. “We are phasing it in each year in order to meet the mandate and get a head start,” Benton explained.
At the forefront of the installation process will be Michael Kilts, a specialist in acquiring Federal Grants. The installation will begin with purchase of an additional 2200 personal computers for the K-3 students to enable each student to be one-on-one with his own device. The second year, 2015-16, the installation will be expanded to grades 4-8, and the third year, 2016-17, grades 9-12 will be added, making the coverage 100% as mandated.
This system will eventually eliminate all text books, but will initially involve a blending of both systems. All testing, home work assignments and grading will be handled by the system. “A new age is coming; we might as well be part of it,” Benton stated. “Most of the students already are very familiar with these devices.”