Wireless from wall to wall


Naugatuck schools continue upgrading technology

NAUGATUCK — When students walk into school on Sept. 2 for the first day of the new school year, they can take out a wireless device and begin surfing the Web anywhere within the school district.

Naugatuck public schools are making sure they have “corner-to-corner” high-speed wireless internet access in all 10 of the district’s public schools for the first time, said Alan Merly, the school system’s information technology director.

“We’re wiring the buildings so that kids can walk in with a Chromebook wherever in the building and have a good signal so they can do research, they can test, they can email their parents, whatever they need to do,” he said.

Improved high-speed internet access is one of several highlights that Merly pointed out about information technology upgrades to the Board of Education last week. Realizing that technology plays a major role in modern education, school officials said they have put an emphasis in recent years on improving the technological resources that are afforded to students.

Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke said she has made technology improvements one of her major district goals over the next two years.

Before the beginning of the school year, members of the information technology department are going through each school to make sure they have reliable computer equipment. That includes maintaining all 1,200 PCs, many of which were installed last year along with projectors in most classrooms. Merly said they have “transformed how teachers are able to teach in the labs and in classrooms.”

The school system has purchased 1,168 Chromebook computers for students over the past three years — that equates to about one for every four students. The Chromebooks are left at the schools on carts of 30 and used in classrooms for standardized testing, word processing and other tasks.

Last year, the district formed a technology committee to examine best ways to use the Chromebooks and use Google Education software. Last year, parents and guardians were notified that students would receive Gmail accounts, giving them their own access to the software.

On Aug. 25, about 85 teachers will volunteer a day to participate in a professional development seminar at City Hill Middle School to learn more about Google software for education and applications that they can use with their students. The school district is hoping to make the “technology summit” an annual event.

“We’re trying to take a big step this year and really go after the experience for the kids, not just maintaining the physical technology,” Merly said.