Boothe: Upgrades needed before testing transition

Agnes Hapka

November 1, 2013

GALLIA COUNTY — In the next year, Gallia County Schools could be expected to make a transition to online proficiency testing, Todd Boothe said at the recent Gallia County Board of Education regular business meeting.

Boothe, technology coordinator for the county schools, said that if this happens the schools will need to implement some changes in their computer inventory and systems.

“We’ve got to upgrade our lab environments and our PC Operating System (OS) installs in all of our schools,” Boothe said.

There are two driving forces that necessitate upgrades, Boothe added.

“Number one, Windows XP is being phased out, and so there’ll be no support for it anymore; and number two, when we go to online testing we don’t have the capability for it in the labs,” Boothe explained.

Boothe outlined some of the technological upgrades necessary for a transition to online testing.

“In my project proposal here, we’re going to upgrade all the lab PCs to Windows 7,” he said, “with the new version of Microsoft Office and new versions of antivirus programs.”

Boothe added that 55 existing PCs will need to be replaced entirely, because they will not run Windows 7, and new laptops will need to be purchased as mobile test units for each building. He said that currently each school building is short between 3o and 50 systems, at 85 percent testing capacity.

The cost, he said, is projected to be around $300,000.

“That’s saving a lot of money, because our OS and Office upgrades are subscription-based,” he said. “And when a new one comes out, like a Windows 8, we can upgrade again for free. I’d want to sign a three-year contract on that with them.”

Part of that cost is for server upgrades in every building.

“We have to do that regardless,” Boothe said.

Boothe said that as far as servicing goes, the school will be able to hire a contractor through Southeastern Ohio Voluntary Education Cooperative.

“We can use that person four days a week for six months,” he said, adding that he would also like to offer supplementary contracts to existing regular full-time employees for the same purpose.

“This is going to be a pretty large effort,” he said. “[About] $71,000 will come out of my budget, and the other $225,000 will be Race to the Top (RTT) money.”

Boothe said that the upgrades are a necessity in the event of the transition.

“We are not prepared,” he said. “As it stands right now, we could not meet the requirements of online testing.”

RTT money, he added, has an expiration date.

In other business, the board approved the payment for the services of Andrea Wamsley-Barr as athletic trainer at South Gallia High School, and payment for flowers purchased for the 2013 South Gallia High School graduation. The board also approved a Talented and Gifted (TAG) class trip to London, Ohio and Columbus in April. This trip will take place at no expense to the board. The board also approved the employment of Danny Matney and Bob Bence as custodians for the Gallia County Schools.

Also present at the meeting were: board members Terry Halley, Brandon Twyman, Billy Swain, Scott Williamson and Melvin Carter, as well as interim superintendent Wendy Halley.