Gov. Deal awards $25 million technology grant to schools statewide

Gov. Deal awards $25 million grant to schools statewide

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Gov. Nathan Deal awarded a $25 million dollar technology grant to schools statewide.

The grant will allow school systems to advance their digital capabilities and provide students with a combination of digital and regular classroom learning. Georgia schools are making big steps forward when it comes to digital learning.

"When they can do what they're used to at the house and what they enjoy working, they get that much more excited about it," said Philip Bertling, a STEM teacher at A. Dorothy Hains Elementary School.

Gov. Nathan Deal announced Tuesday that 136 local education authorities will be awarded more than $25 million dollars from the Connections for Classrooms grant program.

The program will ensure classrooms across the state will have high-speed broadband access for digital and blended learning experiences.

"The state has broken the grant down into four tiers," said Robert Jankus, Director of Information Technology for Richmond County School System. "Each tier being a piece of the network to get to a student. The end goal is to put devices into students hands."

The fourth tier is actual student digital devices.The other tiers include the network within the school connectivity between the central office, outside devices and all the schools in the county, as well as data center upgrades.

The Richmond county School System already received an $85,000 grant that helped get the county ready to receive a certain amount of bandwidth provided by the state.

"In this phase of the grant, we have qualified for $668,000 as matching funds that we can use to attribute to the federal grant," Jankus said.

With technology constantly advancing, school administrators say digital learning is necessary for students.

"You can tell that they are learning and that they're absorbing it," Jankus said.

"They're used to using technology because it's the 21st century," Bertling said. "When they go to the workforce, they're going to be collaborative working with technology and other people all the time. We're trying to counter replicate that environment."

Students should see some improvements in the upcoming 2015-2016 school year. Jankus said this is one step toward becoming 100 percent digital for textbooks and online testing by 2020.

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