Sunday, July 3, 2022

Work session: WJCC School Board considers school security, reading kits and technology updates

During Tuesday's work session, the WJCC school board heard presentations on budget items, including the purchase of reading kits for elementary school students. (WYDaily/Wikimedia Commons)
During Tuesday’s work session, the WJCC school board heard presentations on budget items, including the purchase of reading kits for elementary school students. (WYDaily/Wikimedia Commons)

Budget topics were discussed in relation to school security, language arts resources and technology updates during the Tuesday work session of the Williamsburg-James City County School Board.

The meeting featured three budget items that were initially discussed as part of the end-of-year spending plan for WJCC public schools.

One of which was updating the security cameras within the district.

School security

“Part of our end-of-year spending, we are focused on the board’s priorities, one of which is the security of our schools,” said WJCC Public Schools Superintendent Olwen Herron.

Marcellus Snipes, senior director for operations, presented a proposed budget item to replace many of the district’s current analogue cameras with new Internet Protocol Cameras. Those cameras would have higher quality pictures, allow for enhanced intelligence analytics and can be accessed remotely.

Currently, the district has nearly 600 IP cameras, but there are still 426 analog cameras still in use.

Snipes said OpTech, a technology vendor under contract with James City County, will be doing a survey of the district’s buildings to determine where there are blind spots to put the additional cameras.

“We do have a camera standard where we put cameras, but since the schools are designed differently, we want to make sure we are covering enough areas as we can,” he said. 

Should the new cameras be approved, Snipes said they will replace about 80 percent of the district’s current analog cameras.

Herron said if approved, the cameras would first be replaced in the three high schools.

The total cost for the cameras is estimated at $403,000, Snipes said.

Language Arts materials

The school board also heard a presentation on the purchase of elementary-level reading kits which would cost $161,821. 

Sean Walker, assistant superintendent of school leadership, said the purchase would provide reading level fiction and nonfiction books to support small group instruction in third, fourth and fifth grades. 

“Engaging high quality and appropriate level books are the cornerstone for effective small group reading instruction,” he said. 

The reading skis would contain six copies of up to 200 titles each with an instructional teaching card for each title and information providing students with specific ways to engage learners in relation to skills and content of each book.

If approved, the purchase would include 26 guided reading kits that would be distributed between the district’s elementary schools.

Robyn Moore, coordinator of elementary literacy, said this would be the first large scale purchase of language arts resources at the elementary level since 2002.

“So these kits are new from the publishing company and we are using them to update our already existing collections,” she said. “Many of the books we have in our existing books rooms are outdated so this is a process that we are undertaking to update those exiting collections and freshen them up.”

Moore added that the books the district currently has would be disposed of through means that comply with the WJCC’s policy. This means they will look for other homes for the books, such as giving them away to students or other locations. She said they will not throw away any books unless they are determined absolutely unusable. 

Technology

The division is also considering updating its wireless projection systems in classrooms.

The current model of projects was installed 12 years ago, said Brian Landers, senior director of technology.

As a result, the system doesn’t necessarily support the present technology. For example, the current system uses a VGA adapter but most teachers’ computers no longer come with a VGA port.

If approved, the project will aim to retrofit every classroom in the division with wireless projection. This includes:

  • 648 Classroom Screenbeam wireless modules
  • 30 Screenbeam modules for the gym, cafeteria and auditorium
  • 30 spare Screenbeam modules

The total cost of $483,430 for the project would also include the installation and configuration of the technology, the classroom commander software for teacher control of presentation, and unlimited training for division technicians.

“Structurally, this change will support best practices by allowing the teacher to be anywhere in the classroom while also maintaining control of the classroom presentation,” he said. 

The next school board meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 21 at the WJCC Central Office at 117 Ironbound Road in Williamsburg.

Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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