Pharis wants all teachers to have new computers

Grady County School Superintendent Dr. Tommy Pharis  has ambitions of replacing every computer used by teachers in the public schools in the upcoming new school term.
On Tuesday night, Dr. Pharis submitted bids from four vendors, including Blough Tech of Cairo, that ranged from $1,066.70 per unit to $534.00 per unit. Blough Tech bid $925.00 per unit.
“We are way behind on replacing teacher workstations. As you know we have replaced very little in the way of technology because we cut our technology budget so much,” Dr. Pharis said.
Board Chairman Cuy Harrell III asked how many units the superintendent was planning to replace in the next fiscal year.
“I would like to see us replace most if not all teachers’ computers. Technology issues have been a recurring theme in the strategic planning process and especially from teachers. We need new computers to run Power School and everything else we have to run. Half the time teachers are trying to get their computers to work,” Dr. Pharis said.
He commented, “It’s to the point of being pitiful.”
Superintendent Pharis says he will be looking to include in the next operating budget the replacement of 300 units. Those that are in good working order will be shifted down to student workstations within the individual teacher’s classroom.
Dr. Pharis said he was only asking the board to accept the low bid and not asking for approval to replace all of the computers used by classroom teachers.
“I believe we have found a way to fund the replacements, but we will address that later. Tonight, we are just asking for approval of the bid,” the superintendent said.
Pharis also told board members if a better price for the Dell OptiPlex 380 MT, 4GB Ram, Windows 7 computers can be obtained he would recommend rejecting the current bids and rebidding before making any purchases.
The low bid accepted by the board Tuesday night was from Dell at a cost of $534 each. Ironically, the high bid of those submitted was $1,066.70 from Dell.com for K-12.
According to Dr. Pharis, Technology Director Chris Guest “has done his homework on this.” The computers the school system is looking to buy have five year warranties and include LCD monitors.
The bid price of $534 from Dell and the other vendors are good through December 31, 2011. The new fiscal year begins July 1, 2011.
Chairman Harrell also commented on a recent visit to a computer lab at Northside Elementary School where many of the computers were inoperative.
Dr. Pharis explained the process by which the technology department handles repair orders.
“We have three technicians to keep 1,000 computers working. Our top priority is administrative computers that are responsible for financial or student data. The second priority is on teachers’ computers and third is on computers in computer labs,” Dr. Pharis said.

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