By Deb Murphy
Computers, teacher certification and furniture got top billing at Tuesday’s Inyo County Office of Education Board of Directors meeting.
With the distribution of new Chrome Books in the next two weeks, every Inyo County student will have their own computer. The program started four years ago with age-appropriate devices for the early grades and will wind up with Dell Chromebooks for high school students. Home Street Middle School students will also be getting the Chromebooks as well, with their one-year old 401 Acer laptops distributed to other county schools to serve as back-ups.
To prepare for a fully-computerized student body, the Office of Education expanded, re-wired or re-did the connective infrastructure at school campuses from Bishop to Lone Pine. The project carried a $150,000 price tag, according to Superintendent Terry McAteer. Fifty county teachers will be heading to a three-day CUE Rock Star conference to prepare for the new age of computerized student bodies. “Next year, Rock Star will be coming to Mammoth,” cutting down on travel costs for county participation, McAteer said.
The Office of Education will be allocating $500,000 for schools to refurnish classrooms, replacing the traditional student writing desks with furnishings more appropriate for computer-equipped students. Classrooms need to have more mobile work spaces, McAteer told his board. “This is not a top-down process,” he said, explaining that the districts will make the choices with his office reviewing the purchases then reimbursing the schools.
The funding will come from two projects that have been held up and not completable during this school year: the Lone Pine science center and the Bishop High School library conversion to a technical center. Both projects will be completed, McAteer said, just not this fiscal year.
The National University teacher credentialing program starts September 3 with 18 potential teachers enrolled, 12 of whom are local to Inyo County, McAteer said. “That’s about the same number of teacher openings we have each year.” McAteer, Inyo and Mono county educators and administrators will be teaching specific sections of the course.
The weekly classes rotate between Cerro Coso campuses in Bishop and Mammoth. “Grow your own teachers” is an answer to the tough job of recruiting teachers to the Eastern Sierra in a highly-competitive marketplace.