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Parish schools to get $1 million tech upgrade


NATCHEZ — The Concordia Parish school district is getting a techy upgrade.

The school board approved a plan Thursday night to spend $1 million on a technology enhancement project. The project, which is in phase one, will replace 400 outdated computers, provide 300 iPads to science classrooms in middle schools in the district, and upgrade computer labs in Ferriday and Vidalia high schools.

Superintendent Paul Nelson said the funding comes from local sales tax revenues.

Discovery Education, the system the district uses for their science curriculum, is a digital program for grades 6-8 and will be taught on the iPads.

Nelson said instead of having to wait for newer editions of a textbook to be printed, the digital textbooks can be easily updated.

“It gives you the opportunity to stay very current with science,” Nelson said. “It can really bring a lot of resources like videos and graphs and animations.”

Although the cost benefits to switching to a digital textbook system are unclear at this point, Nelson said he believes in the long run it will save money.

Nelson said he hopes the move will engage students growing up in a technology age.

“It seems like they have an iPhone in one hand and a computer in the other,” Nelson said. “We hope these moves will help us engage students and make learning fun.”

Many of the computers in the district are five to six years old. The first phase of the project will replace around 400 computers. Upcoming phases of the project will phase out the rest of the old computers.

Nelson said the district also hopes to purchase more SMART boards, handheld clicker systems and document cameras, which can project whatever is below them onto a screen.

Nelson hopes to purchase approximately 300 computers within the next 45 days.

The district is also working to improve their wireless infrastructure to handle increasing traffic, receiving funding through a federal program called E-Rate.

Nelson hopes with the added technology will come added interest in learning.

“We’re hoping to make our instruction at the school level more engaging,” Nelson said.