Tzouanakis technology funded by new grant

Friday, March 20, 2015
Students at Greencastle Middle School use iPads in the classroom as part of the 1:1 Technology program that has inspired the Greencastle Community School Corporation to expand the program to Tzouanakis Intermediate School. GCSC has recently received a $100,000 grant to continue its technology integration, with Tzouanakis slated as the next school to see major changes. (Photo by KYLE HOLLINGER)

As part of a $100,000 grant awarded to Greencastle Community School Corporation (GCSC) from the Indiana Department of Education, Tzouanakis Intermediate School will be the next up for ongoing technology integration at GCSC.

After having made leaps and bounds with the 1:1 technology program that put an iPad into the hands of students in grades six through 12, GCSC is looking to expand touchscreen educational tools to younger kids in the district.

The grant will provide for the purchase costs associated with the hardware and software of the devices, but will not go toward updating infrastructure at the school.

Administrators have been forward thinking in their approach to how technology will affect classrooms on a very practical level, making progress ahead of time and acquiring price breaks for doing more work at one time.

At Tzouanakis Intermediate for example, servers and wiring were already installed with the idea that this technological step would eventually affect the school.

That leaves just the placement of access points and wiring to projectors in classrooms as the remaining construction hurdles for the integration to be ready to implement.

In addition to grant money, the school has also applied for an e-rate through the federal government which could see up to 70 percent of the costs of the infrastructure being reimbursed to the school corporation.

More information on GCSC technology will be made available as part of a special section which will spotlight Putnam County Schools' achievements, the first edition of which will be published in the Banner Graphic on Friday, March 27.

In a topic that is frequent across all Putnam County schools, GCSC discussed renovations as another important part of the meeting Monday night.

The board discussed projects that have already been addressed in prior months, namely those associated with a new $2M bond that will see the administration office relocate to a 10,000-square-feet building located directly across from Greencastle Middle School at 1002 Mill Pond Dr., renovation of locker rooms at McAnally Center, installation of digital heating and air conditioning units at Greencastle Middle School (GMS) and Tzouanakis Intermediate, seal coating for all parking lots, fixing the roof at Deer Meadow Primary School as well as renovations for the restrooms at Greencastle High School (GHS).

The move to the administration building is a major improvement for GCSC, returning needed space to Ridpath Elementary School and providing enough real estate for administrators to function without being within earshot of every other employee.

"It seems like a pretty obvious solution to our problem here," superintendent Dawn Puckett told the Banner Graphic after looking at the property and discussing the issue at the board's January meeting.

The school had initially thought it would need to build a new structure from the ground up in order to meet its requirements, bu found a "just right" solution at the Mill Pond Dr. locale.

"Quite honestly, we sat and made a list of everything we needed long before this property became available and everything on the list is met by this property," Puckett said.

Relocation and renovation projects across the school corporation will take place over the summer and scheduling them will result in some atypical shuffling of locations for various summer programs including summer curriculum, camps and professional development programs.

Puckett was sure to emphasize that all of these projects are tax neutral and come at no additional cost to taxpayers.

Changes to the school database provider were approved and will see a change from the Harmony and Computrol systems being consolidated into just one new system, Skyward.

Skyward will also take what currently is made up of five different databases for parents to seek out information and compile them into one, making it easier for parents of students who are of different ages and therefore in different schools to look up information on their children.

"We think the ease of what you're going to use and see," assistant superintendent Jeffrey Hubble said.

"I think user friendliness is going to be a lot better."

The meeting ended on a high note, with acknowledgments to students and staff who received recent honors.

Greencastle High School principal Russ Hesler congratulated GCSC for having 34 of 87 students receive National Technical Honors, an achievement that Hesler and the school were proud of.

Recognition was also bestowed upon the success of Choral Director Debbie Lambert and the 24 gold medal performances that were earned by the school's choral program.

In other businesss:

* The board approved the re-appointment of Amy Weleiver and Diana LaViolette to the Putnam County Library Board. Those appointments are decided upon by GCSC school board members.

* The board drew attention to the cost of text books at GCSC, citing that the school corporation paid $117,900 to purchase textbooks but only received $73,737 in reimbursements from the state, putting the overall cost of textbooks at $43,960.

* The board approved a new laptop lease for teachers and administrators, with the four-year lease on the currently used Dell computers being replaced with HP computers. The new computers are comparable to the presently used devices but will include a number pad but will not have built in webcams. This decision was made to save additional money on each new unit.

* The board approved the hiring of Shelby Johnson as substitute teacher and Michael Scott as boys' head track coach for Greencastle Middle School.

* The board approved the resignations of Eleanor Boyle from her role as cafeteria assistant at GHS and Regina Ames from her role at third-grade teacher Tzouanakis Elementary.

* The board also approved multiple retirements, including Karen Hirt.

The Greencastle Community School Corporation holds monthly board meetings at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of each month.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 20 at Ridpath Primary School.

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