After three years, $300,000 technology not in all Portsmouth schools

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by David Alan

WVEC.com

Posted on February 23, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 17 at 2:20 PM

PORTSMOUTH -- "This is futuristic thinking. It's going to be used heavily. We're just not using it heavily right now."  That's what Portsmouth Schools Superintendent David Stuckwisch said last year about using futuristic technology it bought in 2009.

At that time, the district had only used live streaming video once to show President Obama’s “Back to School” speech in 2009.

"To my knowledge that's the only time it's been used," Stuckwisch stated.

Now a year later, the project that cost Portsmouth taxpayers more than $300,00, is still a work in progress.

“Somebody needs to start doing their job, really. That's pretty much the bottom line there," an upset parent stated.

Just weeks ago, Portsmouth school officials told us 20 percent of schools still didn't have the technology available for all teachers and students to use.

"Seems like wasted money if they're not using it," another parent said.

VBrick, the manufacturer of the streaming technology that brings live current events into classrooms, told us its system can take a little as a few months install and even less time to train staff.

Yet, Portsmouth Schools officials told us they had no issues with the more than three years the project has taken them.

"I think it will fully benefit the students of Portsmouth once the system is fully installed,” School Board Chairman James Bridgeford said.

Bridgeford said he wants the technology installed as soon as possible with the personnel the school district has.

School officials told us budget cuts are one reason it's taken so long to expand the use of technology in classrooms, along with other priorities like online testing and SOLs.

However, we learned the Pulaski School District in Kentucky had similar issues to what Portsmouth faced and yet by year two of the project they established their first school TV station that broadcasts 24/7, viewable throughout the district.

Their staff is using the technology for training videos on issues like blood borne pathogens, bullying and suicide prevention.

Karen Streeter, a technology supervisor for Portsmouth Schools, said feedback from teachers about the new technology has been very good.

"They have to learn it, feel good about it, own it, and really want to use it," Streeter said.

When we asked for specifics as to how teachers were using the technology to raise student achievement, the list we got included Clifford the Big Red Dog, an Elmo math lesson, a CNN broadcast and a replay a holiday PTA program.

When we asked the Portsmouth Education Association what feedback it was getting from teachers about the technology, in an email, Gail Pitman told us in talking with teachers, "many have not known what I was referencing."

 

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