Howard School district implements new security system, laptops for students – Daily Republic

The update, which cost more than $70,000, was paid partly by the Homeland Security Grant. The grant, which paid for half of the cost, was for $35,196.18, according to Superintendent Todd Lee.

Prior to the access system, the doors to the school were unlocked during the day.

“It’s just a little safer,” Lee said. “Anything we can do to make students as safe as we can.”

Each staff member only has access to the buildings they need. To get into other buildings, visitors must be buzzed in, Lee said. With cameras installed, visitors can identify themselves and their reason for going to the school.

A few years ago, Lee said, security cameras were purchased and placed around the school buildings. With the Homeland Security Grant, a few of these cameras were upgraded, too.

“I think it’s positive,” Lee said. “It’s taking a little bit of getting used to for everybody.”

They are still working out some small issues, Lee said, such as when students take exits they deem as shortcuts. This causes the alarm to be set off.

Despite these few problems, Lee said, overall the system is working well.

On top of added security, the Howard School District also purchased 188 laptops for students and teachers.

The laptops, which included bags with etching saying “Howard Tigers”, were given to 148 junior and senior high students, and 23 colony students, Lee said. The remaining were given to teachers to use. The total cost was $83,660.

Lee credits the previous technology coordinator for choosing the laptops. A variety of laptops that varied in size, weight and capabilities were available for students to try. Students then voted on which devices they liked and narrowed down the search until they finally had a winner: the HP convertible laptop.

“It’s really going to be a benefit to us,” Lee said.

Prior to the laptops, Lee said students had iPad minis. But the devices had limitations, such as no keyboard, and were overall harder to use for academic purposes, Lee said.

Some of the teachers used the iPads for textbooks, but they weren’t as useful as educators had hoped. But now, with the new, lightweight laptops, Lee said students and teachers can get more done.

“We’re pretty excited about this,” Lee said about the laptops, which just arrived last week after a minor delay.

The students are required to carry the laptops around in cases to protect from damage.

Lee said students, even though it’s only been a week, are liking the laptops. High school students that are taking dual-credit courses are especially benefitting from the new technology, Lee said. Several are taking online speech classes and the laptop, which has a built-in camera, allows students to record themselves.

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