Guilford County School leaders concerned about digital learning resources

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GREENSBORO, N.C. – North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory is calling for more technology in North Carolina classrooms, signing two bills on Friday to encourage digital learning.

One will require teachers to know more about digital learning to attain their licensure. The other bill directs funding away from textbooks in favor of things like tablets and iPads for students by the year 2017.

Guilford County School leaders say this is easier said than done.

"It's important that the General Assembly understand why some of these things aren't happening,” said Guilford County School Chief of Staff Nora Carr. “It's not because it's not a priority. It's because the resources just aren't there."

Teachers like Sarah Robinson, who is a speech pathologist at Gillespie Park Elementary in Greensboro, have integrated technology into their classrooms with their own wallets. She said she bought an iPad to use with her students after hearing about applications available specifically for speech students.

"I found that when I worked with them with this iPad, their eyes were just glued to me, and I didn't have to fight to keep their attention," Robinson said.

Carr said integrating technology is a priority in Guilford County Schools, as outlined in the system's 2016 strategic plan.

But for now, money for new technology is coming from grants, such as the newly-announced tablets for middle school students, and private donations, such as those that help support Montlieau Academy of Technology.

“And those grants and donations are great,” continued Carr. "That helps you on the short term, but that's not a long term solution. We can't support this long term."

At least not with the current amount of state funding, she added.

For example, two years ago, the state provided the school system with $110,000 for new textbooks. The school system has about 72,500 students, which is just more than one dollar per student.