Funding for Alamance-Burlington Schools technology upgrades coming up short

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Students in the Alamance-Burlington School System may have to wait at least another year before getting technology upgrades and new computers.

The school system asked county commissioners for more money in their budget, partly to fund new computers.

Alamance County Commissioners did increase funding overall, but it is $3 million short of what the Board of Education asked for.

Board of Education member Steve Van Pelt tells FOX8, "We're going to be scrambling around, looking for $1.5 million for technology. We may have to put that off for a year. That's going to create a real hardship in our schools when it comes to testing."

District spokesperson Jenny Faulkner explained districts, including Alamance, are moving toward online testing for state End of Grade and End of Course tests.

While they'll still have paper and pencil test capabilities available, the trend is to move completely online statewide.

Van Pelt explained, "If we don't have enough computers to test everybody at the same time, we've got kids sitting idle. That's not a good situation for teaching and learning."

Teachers say testing that should take two weeks sometimes takes three or four because there are simply not enough upgraded, high speed computers.

State funding could add to the budget crunch. The Senate's proposed budget would give teachers a raise, but it would also force Alamance-Burlington Schools to eliminate at least 11 teacher positions, more than a hundred teacher assistants and two school nurses.

"We are hopeful that those will not be included in the House version of the budget," Faulkner pointed out.

In addition, the new computers were intended for classroom and computer lab use across the district, Faulkner added, not just for online testing.

Hunter Duff's daughter will start third grade next year.

"I'm seeing a lot of schools now with the older desktops and everything -- slow running computers -- they're running old outdated software. A lot have Windows 98 and stuff. I mean, come on, the kids need to have more updated stuff," Duff said.

He hopes the BOE can find enough money somehow. "This is the kids. I mean if you don't invest the money in them, what do you expect to get out of them?"


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