District One finances in good shape; property purchase will allow expanion

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By Stan Welch

During their monthly meeting Tuesday (Nov. 26), the Anderson School District One Board of Trustees heard the annual audit report, purchased property in Powdersville and heard a presentation on technology that will help transition teaching to a digital format.

The board received a favorable audit from Greene, Finney & Horton, their long time accounting firm. The district took in more in revenues than they spent for the year, ending up $1 million in the black.

The board unanimously agreed to purchase a 15.28 acre parcel adjacent to the new Powdersville High School complex. The property will make future expansion of the school’s athletic fields possible, as well as offering alternatives to handle future traffic issues. The total price of the land is $201,351.83, or $13,089 per acre.

The highlight of the meeting, attended by most, if not all, of the district’s principals, was a presentation on technology by a young entrepreneur named Travis Allen.

Allen, a student at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta, is also the CEO of a non-profit group known as the iSchool Initiative.

His presentation followed a briefing by Superintendent David Havird on the importance and inevitability of the changes that technology is making in education. Havird appears to have the board’s support for the introduction of iPads and other wireless devices into the classroom.

He made it clear that he would need that support, saying that the transition to a digital learning environment will be difficult, but essential. Such a transition will encourage critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity among future students. Havird also pointed out that studies predict that within the next decade, 77% of available jobs will require technical and digital skills.

Allen gave a thorough and innovative presentation on how and why to make that transition. His organization has traveled to 27 different states and trained approximately 120,000 teachers and administrators in the use of technology in an instructional environment.

Allen, one of the 2012 Google Young Minds contest winners, stressed that technology is just a tool, and that the student must remain the center of the efforts to educate. He also made it clear that the culture of conventional education must be changed.

“ My goal is to have schools without textbooks, without paper, without number two pencils. The value of studying and learning information to provide on a test, then forgetting it the next day is past. The key now is to be able to find the information, filter it and apply it to a real life need. That is where the iPad and other similar devices come in,” said Allen.

Allen also stressed that the teacher remains at the top of the pyramid. “We actually need to change the culture so that teachers receive the respect they deserve as well. I was not respectful of my teachers when I was in school, but they are certainly deserving of it.”

Allen’s interest in what he calls mobile learning began when his cell phone was confiscated one day at high school, because his school had a no phone policy. He spent the next four months producing a YouTube video about the value of digital devices in the learning process.

The board elected officers and all members and officers retained their positions without challenge. Fred Alexander continues his third decade as chairman.