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County schools improve on tech assets as classes prepare to start
Karen House
July 16, 2018, 4:01 p.m.

A banner in the lobby of the Sequatchie County School System's central office.

July 16, 2018 – On Monday, Aug. 6, Sequatchie County public schools will resume for the 2018-19 school year, and Director of Schools Pete Swafford is touting the local system as “a 10-gig campus.”

The school system went wireless about five years ago and upgraded their computer network this year.

We put over 600 student computers in the schools just last year, and plan to put at least that many in the schools this year,” Swafford said Monday. “We're working on our technology assets, with the goal of every student in the school system having access to their own individual computer in school. If not during this school year, then in the next school year, we will be very, very close to a one-to-one ratio.”

The Sequatchie County School System has the fastest internet service in the Sequatchie Valley, Swafford said, but recently improved infrastructure is allowing them to increase the number of devices on that system now.

When improvements are done, every student in every school will have access to a wireless Chromebook at every desk. And the school system is working with Bledsoe Telephone Cooperative (BTC) to establish wi-fi hot-spots at community centers around the county, so students without internet at home will be able to access online educational materials more easily after school hours.

Sequatchie County High School (SCHS) also is expanding offerings compatible with a technology-dependent Fourth Industrial Revolution. The school system recently was awarded grants to implement a mechatronics program and virtual welding in the CTE (Career and Technical Education) program.

Swafford pointed out that as manufacturing transitions to robots replacing human workers in fields like auto assembly, there is a rising need for a workforce skilled in programming and repairing robotics.

SCHS also will be building a welding curriculum, to teach welding. He noted that several candidates for governor this year plan to build on Gov. Bill Haslam's promotion of vocational training in public high schools.

ORIENTATION

In the past couple of years, Sequatchie County Schools have changed from having a hectic abbreviated first day of school to having an evening orientation for parents and students the week before the official first day of school – which is a full day.

Aug. 2 we will have a county-wide orientation for parents – at all three schools,” Swafford said.

Scheduled for 5-7 p.m. CDT to accommodate parents' work schedules, the orientation will allow parents and students to locate classrooms, meet teachers, and pick up the paperwork that normally is handed out on the first day of school.

We are getting all that out of the way before the first day of school,” Swafford said, “so the first day of school we can have school.”

WHAT'S NEW

The school system will begin using the new maintenance building this year, which was constructed over the summer break behind Griffith Elementary School (GES). The $783,000 facility is over 7,000 square feet. All the lawn care and large equipment belonging to the school system will be housed there, as well as HVAC maintenance and repair.

Bus schedules will have only a few minor changes, Swafford said, and the traffic pattern for dropping off and picking up students will be the same as last year – with parents having students at more than one school asked to enter at GES and exit at the high school.

The new maintenance building, constructed in recent months on the school campus.