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Board considers investments in new VanLandingham Center

As the Grady County Board of Education begins to utilize its new VanLandingham Center for school functions and prepares to move its monthly board meetings to the former U.S. Post Office building the need for additional investment in the facility is discussed.
Tuesday night, Grady County Board of Education members heard an update on the VanLandingham Center from School Superintendent Dr. Tommy Pharis.
Last month the board approved up to $5,000 for miscellaneous expenses to make the facility usable for a school board chamber.
This week, board members reviewed cost estimates to equip the new board room with computers for use by the board members and administrative personnel.
Options discussed including the purchase of a main computer and six non computing terminals as well as other miscellaneous equipment at a cost of $4,760 or a second option of moving to the use of laptops at a cost of $6,880.
Dr. Pharis is encouraging the school board to leave the existing computers and technology in the current central office board room to accommodate smaller meetings of school personnel.
“I would really prefer to leave the technology in this room,” Dr. Pharis said while discussing the use of the existing equipment.
Grady County Board of Education Vice Chairman Teresa Gee Harris suggested a third option be considered and quotes obtained for Apple I-Pads or similar wireless devices.
Ms. Harris said that investments in technology should be based on a five year technology plan. “We need to be planning for down the road and not just what is best for today,” she said.
Superintendent Pharis said that Technology Director Chris Guest favors a similar set-up to the existing board room technology, however, Administrative Assistant Dana Pritchett told board members that laptops or mobile devices could be easily moved and locked away when the building was used for other activities whereas the non computing terminals would be stationary and could be damaged or tampered with.
Board member Drew Pyrz suggested Guest evaluate all options and outline his recommendations and provide supporting data.
The board also discussed options to provide a presentation projection and screen to allow the public attending meetings to see meeting materials on a large screen. Those options ranged from $1,410 to $4,850. Dr. Pharis suggested a configuration like the one in the current board room had not been priced out, but was preferable to the options under consideration. Board members requested Pharis obtain those estimates and report back.
Lastly, the city of Cairo has given a bid of $5,000 to hook up the facility to fiber electronics and Internet connectivity. Board member Pryz requested the administrative staff contact the city to see if that was a firm bid or if the cost could be negotiated.
School officials are predicting having the VanLandingham Center available for school board meetings possibly by the March 2012 meeting, but Vice Chairman Harris noted, “we are already using the building now for Science Fairs and other things even though the board is not meeting there yet.”
Last month the school board unanimously approved up to $5,000 from Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) II proceeds to be spent on needed repairs and renovations at the VanLandingham Center.
Grady County School System Operations Director Jerry Cox outlined a proposal including some duct work repairs, ceiling sanding and repainting, construction of an elevated platform to house the board dais and other minor work.
A project to make all of the windows more energy efficient and tinted to aid with heating and cooling of the facility was also previously approved. Cost of the window project is $10,890, but Mayor Richard VanLandingham and his wife, Teresa, who donated the building to the school system, have donated $10,000 toward the window project.

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