Andalusia OKs funds for technology for all students

Published 9:54 am Friday, July 5, 2019

The Andalusia City Council on Monday approved the school system’s $989,209 plan for use of proceeds from the city’s half-cent sales tax for education on Tuesday.

The school system plans to lease additional Apple computers at a cost of $110,000 per year to complete its goal of one iPad or laptop per student.

“Nine years ago we started this process of hopefully getting to a 1:1 ratio with these machines,” Andalusia City Schools Superintendent Ted Watson said. “We went from a time where there was very little money available statewide because we were in proration and had gone through some substantial cuts. That is when we started looking at the computer situation at the high school and elementary school.”

Watson said that several people worked hard to get the schools to where they are now.

“We were very fortunate to have the PTA at the elementary school to keep us propped up,” Watson said. “At the high school, we had one career tech lab that was functional. So, we were in pretty bad shape. Just to figure out what we could do at that time, we solicited the help from the Dixon Foundation and they were gracious enough to give us the money to fund a lab. I have got to give all of the credit in the world to our I.T. guy, Gary Odom. He is the one that has kind of steered us through this whole process and started thinking about what others were beginning to do to reach this 1:1 ratio.”

With the help of the city council, Watson said they are very pleased to reach this milestone.

“We didn’t do anything,” Watson said. “The mayor and the council approved the half-cent sales for education and it has allowed us to afford to enter into several leases with Apple.”

Although they are four-year leases, Watson said at the end of the four years, the computers will be property of the school system.

“Those leases basically allow us to pay for the machines over four years,” Watson said. “At the end of the four years, we pay $1 and the computers are ours. I don’t want people mislead to think that we are leasing for four years and then we are done with them. We wanted Apple, because of their longevity. They will last at least seven to nine years and we will use them for that long.”

“These are the kinds of things we set out to do when we agreed to adopt this sales tax,” Mayor Earl Johnson said. “There aren’t many school systems in Alabama that provide computer access to students at this level.”

The education sales tax also will be used to fund:

  • Asbestos removal and replacement tile in the hallways of Andalusia High School – $134,292.
  • A music teacher at Andalusia High School – $70,000.
  • Leader in Me training for teachers at Andalusia Elementary School. The character program is built on Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” – $60,000.
  • New fencing of the AHS baseball and softball fields – $14,917.
  • Sealing and striping the parking lots at AHS – $35,000.
  • Matching funding of $50,000 for a five-year, $625,000 grant currently being pursued by the Drug-Free Andalusia Coalition and Peer Helpers.
  • Debt services on the auditorium and stadium projects at AHS – $500,000.