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Opp schools face technical difficulties

Despite having placed first in the state for their low student-computer ratio, Opp City Schools have had several problems getting their PCs up and running this school year. To combat the issue, Opp City Schools Superintendent Dr. Timothy Lull proposed to the Opp Board of Education that they hire a technology specialist at Thursday night's meeting.

The suggestion came shortly after the board passed a $9.9 million budget for the coming year, which had approximately $38,000 "extra" money in projected revenues. It is out of that extra money, Lull said, the specialist would be paid.

"You can't effectively run a tech program with part-time help," said Lull.

The system had one part-time computer tech who recently resigned, and has relied on assistance from one or two older students as well.

"The industry standard is one tech for every 100 computers. The state standard is one tech for every 250 computers," said Lull. "We've got 650 computers. We've got nothing."

When school board president Rinkey Stanley questioned why the computers were not working, he was told that lightning strikes had been a major factor, taking out several of the hubs. Other factors included the age of some of the machines and lack of continual maintenance.

"We've got a lot of new systems and can't get them up and running," said Lull.

Quoting a management flowchart, in which missing elements contribute to different reactions and results, Lull said.

"When resources are missing, what you end up with is frustration," he said.

That frustration was voiced by

Glenda Presley, principal at South Highlands Elementary.

"We're in the fourth week of school and have not been able to access the teaching programs," Presley told the board.

She said even if the board hires a technology specialist, it won't be enough.

"He can't do it alone," she said. "Each school needs its own tech person. Everything is technology driven."

One suggestion was made that the proposed technology specialist also train students to help with maintaining the computers.

Lull told the board he had worked with an acquaintance whose field was technology in drawing up the job description. The board approved the description and gave Lull permission to advertise for the job with the understanding that the salary, based on a scale Lull provided and on experience, would be negotiable.

The technology specialist will provide installation, repair and upkeep of the computer and communications networks throughout the Opp City Schools System. A two-year degree is required, a four-year degree is preferred, or equivalent work experience. The job opening will be advertised in area newspapers and posted on the Opp City Schools website at www.oppcityschools.com/?employment.