The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

April 27, 2014

Athens City Schools prepare to Power Up

First in a series of related articles

By Lora Scripps

— Athens City Schools is gearing up for an initiative aimed at continuing to put the latest technology in the hands of students.

School officials such as ACS Technology Coordinator Dr. Chris Hamilton know all too well students live in an on-demand, technology-dependent world.

The school district is preparing to meet those needs by increasing student access to computer technology through the Power Up Program.

Officials said rather than teaching technology as a discrete subject, the district plans to use “a holistic approach where the technology skills and related computer projects will be integrated throughout the daily curriculum to foster active, student-centered, hands-on learning.”

The goal of the program is to strengthen the communication, collaboration and creative ability for all students in all classes using hands-on learning, student-centered learning and access to information and communication.

School officials said the purpose is to “offer students access to a variety of technological resources” that will complement instruction, providing each student with a digital device during an academic year for use at school and, in some grade levels, at home.

According to Hamilton, students will have access to Apple iPads and MacBooks depending on grade levels. She said students in K-6 will have iPads to be used at school, while grades 7-12 will get MacBooks that can be taken home.

The program does come with a student fee. Athens students in grades 7-12 will pay a $50 user fee for the first child and $40 per child for families with multiple children in the school district. Some help will also be provided to low-income families.

Handbooks will also be sent home with students and both parent and student orientations will be held in July.

The Power Up Program is funded through the city’s one-cent sales tax. The school district is receiving 20 percent of the tax for Power Up, which will cost more than $2 million over the next four years.

It is hoped the Power Up Program is underway by the beginning of the 2014-15 school term. According to Superintendent Trey Holladay, the technology initiative is an investment in students and the community.

“Our ultimate goal is to find the point at which sound pedagogy, content knowledge and technology meet to provide our students with the engaging and personalized learning they deserve,” Holladay said.

Editor’s note: The News Courier plans to run a series of articles explaining the Power Up Program to students and parents leading up to the 2014-2015 school year.