Soldiers get pupils connected

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Richmond County has called in the troops to assist the school system's understaffed technology department.

Computers have been sitting in unopened boxes since August. At Langford Middle School alone, $90,000 in computers and other equipment intended for classroom instruction remains unpacked.

Until last week, the same was true for computers that had stacked up at Freedom Park Elementary School and A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet High School.

Now, at the request of Superintendent Dana Bedden, Fort Gordon soldiers have volunteered to install the computers as a community service project, easing the burden on the schools' six technology department employees.

"For my office to do it alone, it would have taken my entire team," said Carol Taylor, the school system's director of educational media and technology.

"It would have been very difficult."

On Saturday morning, a team of 19 soldiers installed about 80 computers, Mrs. Taylor said.

If paid contractors had performed the same work, it would have cost the school system $3,500.

Instead, it only cost the price of the soldiers' lunch.

A sales tax oversight committee approved the purchase of the computers, but Bill Lockett, who presides over the committee, said he did not know that they were stacked up somewhere, unused.

He said he reacted with "irritation and frustration" a few weeks ago after stumbling upon the stacks of boxes.

"It was just a little mind boggling," he said.

Mr. Lockett commended the partnership with Fort Gordon and is confident it will continue.

About 800 new computers, which were approved by his committee, are expected to be delivered by the end of the year.

Fort Gordon's soldiers benefit from the partnership, too. They are enrolled in computer classes at the installation and are required to perform community service, Mrs. Taylor said.

"It's a win-win," she said. "We need some help, and they need to earn some hours for community service."

The soldiers have worked at Freedom Park and A.R. Johnson, and they are making plans to work at Langford Middle School.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (10) Add comment
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politicallyNcorrect1
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politicallyNcorrect1 11/26/08 - 07:54 am
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I must say I am not suprised

I must say I am not suprised by the lack of Augusta's citizens not even writing one post about this article. It's sad but no one will take the time to write unless they argue & rant about race, polictics, Obama, generally anything negitive. I believe some lose sleep for going over in their head how to put someone down, make fun of somebody & generally be worthless. So here's another reason Ft. Gordon is a necessity to Augusta's well being! I must also say It's a pleasure not to see some of the trouble makers names & comments here:)...But it is early, only time will tell if Augusta's trash will show up here???

GuyIncognito
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GuyIncognito 11/26/08 - 08:03 am
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Good job soldiers and good

Good job soldiers and good job Augusta schools for thinking outside the box, your thriftiness and looking to the community to help the students.

uniqueny46
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uniqueny46 11/26/08 - 08:50 am
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I totally agree with

I totally agree with GuyIncognito - great job soldiers & Augusta school system for thinking & being there for our pupils & our community.

workingmom
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workingmom 11/26/08 - 08:52 am
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As an educator it is

As an educator it is wonderful to see these young men use their knowledge to help the school system. Thank you for a job well done.

GSneed
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GSneed 11/26/08 - 09:57 am
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Poli...I concur. This is

Poli...I concur. This is when Bedden should try to go ahead and secure a long-term "agreement" with Ft. Gordon to continuously satisfy RCBOE needs as well as the needs of the men and women in the program. Heck, if all it costs is lunch for the soldiers...?! This is a no-brainer.

galaxygrl
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galaxygrl 11/26/08 - 09:59 am
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What a great example of

What a great example of citizenship for the students. It also shows them how a military career can educate and prepare them of the future.

Unique Ed Techie
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Unique Ed Techie 11/26/08 - 10:47 am
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Way to go service members!

Way to go service members! These service members are not just attending computer classes as Mr. Gelpi quotes Carolyn Taylor. These students are at Fort Gordon for Professional Military Education, Career Progression, and functional courses. Computers and community service are just ONE part of what they do in the Signal Corps. Recommendations have been made to school board members to connect with the units and NCO, Officer, and WO courses that pass through Fort Gordon as well as the military retirees that reside in Augusta. Mr. Lockett if you were surprised by the boxes sitting around, visit some of the other schools, talk to the true stakeholders. If the committee approved funds for the computers, what about the funding for installation, operation, maintenance, and insurance? Even with the installation of the computers, the network contracted for student use is extremely slow and many educational sites are blocked and filtered. It is just easier to use a Blackberry or an iPhone. The decision makers need to listen to the teachers, parents, and students who graduate, leave, or migrate out of RCBOE...the technology skills used in RCBOE do not prepare students for the real world.

Unique Ed Techie
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Unique Ed Techie 11/26/08 - 10:52 am
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workingmom...don't forget to

workingmom...don't forget to thank the men and women. Both are pictured here, participating in this project, and serving in the military.
Thanks to all of our service members for everything you do!

chastagner
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chastagner 11/26/08 - 12:17 pm
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This is wonderful! Thank you

This is wonderful! Thank you Fort Gordon!!!

palomino9
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palomino9 12/01/08 - 12:04 am
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we are paying soldiers to

we are paying soldiers to install computers in schools, where is the money we pay in taxes going???? HELLO?

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