Thanks to the eSPLOST, one-penny sales tax approved by Fulton County taxpayers, students in the Fulton County School District will return to school on August 10, and will be assigned their own mobile device for personalized learning. For the 2015-16 school year, Fulton County Schools takes the first step in a district-wide project that pairs students with mobile learning devices. Middle and high school students will have mobile devices that they will be allowed to use at school and at home. Elementary school students will use and share devices with a classmate during school hours. The district will be using both tables and laptops.
This major undertaking started with the system being divided into five groups of schools, with the first two groups of schools kicking off the program this fall. In a press release on Tuesday, July 28, the District explained how all schools were required to show their readiness by creating a personalized learning plan that details how the devices will be used to support learning, show special steps taken by individual schools’ instruction, show how professional development will be provided for teachers, and how information and communications will be shared with parents and the community. Students and parents also had to demonstrate their readiness through required mini-modules on digital citizenship, understand etiquette and responsible use of the devices and how to safeguard it for reuse next year.
Three vendors and their products were selected after an RFP process: Apple Inc. (iPads), Dell Computers (Chromebooks and Latitude laptops) and PC Specialists (Microsoft Surface tablets). The operating software used by the devices are iOS, Microsoft Windows and Google Chrome.
Some Fulton County students will return to four new elementary schools this fall. The schools are: Asa G. Hilliard Elementary, Heards Ferry Elementary, College Park Elementary, and a temporary site for Esther Jackson Elementary in which its old site is under construction and expected to be complete next August. In all more than 26 school projects throughout the county have been completed including the three new elementary schools, a new middle school and six building additions. Playgrounds were also replaced at 33 elementary schools.
The district’s teaching force has also grown to 6,770 teachers including 800 new teachers to begin this academic year. There are 19 new school principals named to Fulton schools this year. As well, 100 new school bus drivers are completing their training now to create a transportation staff of more than 800 drivers.
Among long list of new academic, career and technology programs awaiting students this year, Fulton County Schools will take advantage of new Georgia legislation for earning college credits in high school that is broken down into two parts. The first streamlines the former multi college credit programs into one statewide dual enrollment program now collectively called Move On When Ready . The second, Move One When Ready program, is a new High School Graduation Option which provides students a high school diploma, and any applicable college credentials, if specific requirements are met.
Fulton County Schools will also join other Metro Atlanta systems participating in the Free Breakfast/Free Lunch Program. The District has expanded its Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) to 22 schools this year, providing students in those schools access to free breakfast and lunch. To qualify, a school must have 40% or more students eligible for free meals over a four-year period.