PICKENS COUNTY — Younger students returning for the 2017-2018 school year can expect a few changes from the district transforming safety and technology policies in elementary and middle schools.
“One thing we did this year is expand on our 1:1 program,” said School District of Pickens County Information Specialist John Eby. “We’ve been gradually issuing tablets and Chromebooks to students at upper grade levels, but this is the first year we’ve done so with fourth and fifth graders.”
According to Eby, the change comes on the heels of a school board decision that recognized technology as a priority in the district.
“These Chromebooks have been very successful in the classroom and have proved to be a valuable resource,” he said. “I think that’s going to continue with now some of our younger students having access to them as well.”
A nationwide survey conducted by Harris Poll in 2014 found that while all students surveyed want more mobile device use in the classroom, only one in six students (16 percent) attended a school that provided every student with a laptop or tablet.
Pickens County has been working on changing that.
“You have to look at how far technology has come and how fast it happened,” said Eby. “It wasn’t too long ago that we (the district) was paying $600 for each device. Prices and accessibility have dramatically dropped over the past couple years which is making this program that much easier to expand upon.”
Another change, recently approved by the Board of Trustees, is to add School Resource Officers (SROs) to elementary schools.
“This was a conversation that began after the shooting in Newtown Connecticut,” said Eby. “We discussed it then and really, it’s been on ongoing conversation ever since.”
Eby said the Board decided to take action following last year’s shooting in Townville.
“There will now be SROs in every elementary school,” said Eby. “This has been done in conjunction with the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office as well as local police departments — everyone’s on board with this.”
Schools in the County already have security measures and protocols in place but Eby said adding the SROs to elementary schools just added one more layer of protection for students.
“A student needs to fell safe and secure in their learning environment,” he said. “This has been a long time coming.”