Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

June 13, 2013

Extra bond money goes for high tech

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — High tech is not just an expression for Pauls Valley school officials who are using the pleasant surprise of having extra money from an old bond issue to make some major computer upgrades.

Officials have announced in the range of $110,000 is left over from a bond issue totaling nearly $1.2 million that was approved by local voters in the spring of 2011.

PV Superintendent Darsha Huckabaa is all smiles about the prospect of using the additional money to help out the district’ technology.

“We completed all the projects as written for the bond issue and we have money left over,” Huckabaa said.

“It was an easy choice to spend it on tech and keep it up to date,” she said. “We’re excited what we’re able to do and have it in place this fall.”

The issue now over two years old allowed for a number of building renovations and improvements at each PV school. It also paid for a handful of brand new school buses.

With all those projects long finished and some of the bond funds left over a decision was made to use the extra money to make some much needed upgrades to the district’s technology.

This attention to school tech basically means new computers, better equipping computer labs and moving some things around to help out computer systems at each site.

In all the district will get around 135 new computers and a complete revamping of the computer labs at a couple of schools.

“The greatest need was at the high school and junior high with the state mandated testing,” Huckabaa said.

“This year the state testing was online for sixth grade and up.”

Travis Thompson is not only the local junior high’s assistant principal and at times a math teacher but also the school district’s director of technology.

“We’ve got to update the tech or our kids are not getting the kind of experience they need,” Thompson said about the classroom and students’ studies.

“Every site is going to see a little change for the better.”

Thompson agrees online testing for students is one of the big benefits from these upgrades happening this summer.

“We’ve got to be able to go somewhere and test the kids,” Thompson said.

“They need to go in there and click a button,” he said. “They don’t need to wonder if the computer is going to work.”

In fact, Thompson calls it “crucial” to have computer labs up to date and reliable when it comes to testing.

That’s evident with the end of year instruction tests. Students are required to pass at least four out of seven tests showing their mastery of the course work.

The upgrades will ultimately help more than just the testing process as teachers and students should see the benefits in a number of ways.

Thompson adds all the new tech coming in this summer will combine nicely with an already upgraded computer network in place for the whole district.

Huckabaa gives all the credit for the bond issue projects to the Pauls Valley voters who said yes in a big way back in 2011.

“We feel fortunate to have a community that supported a bond issue that now allows us to upgrade our technology,” she said.

“Without their support this wouldn’t be happening.”

For the superintendent this move to upgrade the district’s technology also shows the need to start budgeting for this very thing every year.

The reason is simple — federal dollars used for technology upgrades in the past aren’t always available. Neither is extra bond issue money.