Posted: Tuesday, December 17th 2013 at 12:15am
Gainesville board okays guns in some schools
By Marc Eggers
GAINESVILLE - In a move Gainesville City School officials have been weighing since the start of the year, the Gainesville School Board Monday night approved equipping school resource officers (SROs) at three schools with semi-automatic rifles.
The intergovernmental agreement with the City of Gainesville will provide funding for three Colt M4 6920 rifles and for three rifle safes for SROs at Gainesville High School, Gainesville Middle School and Woods Mill Academy.
The City and the School Board would equally share the $6,000 cost with the Gainesville Police Department handling the acquisition.
The Board had originally planned to vote on the gun plan in October, but governance councils at each of the three schools involved wanted time to review the pros and cons of having the weapons on their campuses.
(See earlier story linked below.
Board weighs technology upgrades for all schools
The Board had asked Technology Director Keith Palmer how much it would cost to make all the schools in the City School System on a technological par with the system’s newest school, Fair Street.
Fair Street was opened just this year and employs cutting edge technology in their effort to provide a better education. So, Board members asked at a previous Board meeting, what would the cost be to bring that level of technology to the other school buildings.
Palmer looked at the Board and said, "I’m not here to ask you for $6 million. I’m just letting you know what it would cost."
"It takes my breath away," Chairman Calkins commented.
Palmer pointed out that the largest portion of the cost would be to provide tablets for each student, as is the case at Fair Street; $4.2 million of the projected cost is for 7,000 tablet devices.
David Syfan asked about the possibility of providing the technology and wifi bandwidth needed to service the 7,000 tablets and, "students brought their own tablets…it seems a little more feasible than doing it all."
All of the schools, Palmer explained, have some level of connectivity already in place, but not at the level needed to mimic the environment at Fair Street.
Palmer agreed with the idea. "We’re having about a thousand devices a day attaching that are not ours, that are student (owned) devices."
Board member Willie Mitchell agreed. "Over 75 percent of our students already have electronic devices that they could use."
Upgrading bandwidth and increasing access points in the schools would cost just over $1 million Palmer explained.
Chairwoman Calkins urged a circumspect approach to spending any money on technology until each school’s administration could be surveyed. “Where does this fit in on their priority list? Do they need textbooks or teachers? Or (restored) furlough days? Or this (technology upgrade)?"
The Board asked Palmer to meet with the finance department and see what budget constraints would allow or prohibit taking the initial steps to upgrade each school’s connectivity status.
Palmer agreed, also saying that he needed more time to learn about online security protocols.
Link: Rifles for Gainesville SRO's is not a new idea
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