On Tuesday, the Grainger County Board of Education was informed that about 900 Google Chromebook computers to be distributed to freshmen are almost ready for use.
Technology Director Dr. James Atkins reported that the Google Chromebook computers purchased for use in the school system are ready and awaiting two pieces of software management, totaling $19,000. Those will provide filtering and firewall services.
“Essentially, we’re making sure that the Chromebook we provide the freshmen go home with the same degree of filtering that we have here (at school), so if they search for something inappropriate, then it will be blocked,” he said.
The other software management tools will provide teacher tools to monitor computer use by grades five through eight during class time.
“The teacher can find his/her Chromebook and look exactly what any student is looking at, run it up and take control of the device. If I’m a teacher (and if) they are looking at ESPN, I can actually close the window out, send a note to see if they need some assistance,” Atkins said.
The distribution goal for the Chromebooks is slated in around two weeks, or around Labor Day.
The Sept. 17 Board of Education meeting will be preceded by a work session in for choosing candidates to replace Edwin Jarnagin as director of schools in January. Jarnagin will retire on Jan. 5 to return to a Central Office position as an assistant to Atkins. The work session is at 6 p.m.
An agreement was also approved among Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, Washburn School and Johnson Chapel Community Outreach for a food pantry.
“We’re looking at the old weight room in the old gym because they can come in from the back side,” Jarnagin said. “Second Harvest contacted the school because they are a K-12 very rural school. Ms. Ginny McElhaney (Washburn Principal) is in agreement with that and wants it. This sounds like a good thing for the community.”
Jarnagin said that there is going to be some work involved with getting the room ready, such as a removal of items and possible repairs if needed. There will be a refrigerator and cooler located there.
A contract between the Tennessee Department of Human Services and Grainger County Schools was also approved at the meeting.
“We have been waiting on this grant,” Jarnagin said. “Roger Blanken, special education coordinator, received it on Sunday. This grant will have three people involved. It will pay to take people out to job sites. It will pay for two bus drivers to take them out, and for a coordinator. It sounds like it will be renewable and it will be a good thing for the students of the system.”
The grant totals $98,986, with a county match of $21,000, minus maintenance of effort. The grant is $75,168 with paid benefits of $23,018. A case manager is $38,000, and workplace readiness specialists, or bus drivers, $18,584 per year.
In other board action:
• Chairman Harold Frazier and Vice-Chairman Karen McNish were both renominated and reelected to their posts. Marcus Long and Steve Hodge were elected as representatives for the Tennessee Legislative Network.
• Board members Hodge, Johnny Brooks and Larry Turley were nominated as delegates to the upcoming Tennessee State Education Association Convention.
• Jarnagin will attend the Tennessee Executive Development Program for Public School Leaders.
• Atkins was reappointed the education representative to the Grainger County Joint Economic Development Board. Atkins has been on the board for three years.
• Approved contract with Grainger County Schools and Mitchell Emert and Hill PC of Knoxville for auditing services.
• Approved contract with Douglas Cherokee Early Head Start and Grainger County to start working procedures for pre-kindergarten children eligible for special education services in compliance with state and federal rules.
• Also approved participation in the U-Trust employee education program.
• A customer marketing agreement was approved between Coca-Cola (CCBCC) and Grainger High School for soft drink concessions.