By Donna
Opelika Observer

The Opelika City Schools’ Board of Education accepted a bid of $9,499.99 from Best Buy in Richfield, MN for eight additional Google Expedition Kits. According to Superintendent Mark Neighbors, the system already has one kit and this additional purchase will now enable every school to have one. Each kit contains 30 devices, which are on a self-contained rolling cabinet.
“Each kit contains the equipment for 30 students to participate in a virtual reality experience. Virtual reality provides new forms and methods of visualization, drawing on the strengths of visual representations,” said Stacy Royster, Opelika City Schools’ Technology Coordinator.
“Students benefit from experiences they receive while using the virtual reality kits. Experiences are what make content more meaningful for students,” explained Royster. “It is a lot easier to teach and to understand a unit on oceanography if you have visited the ocean than if you have never seen it before.”
Neighbors stressed the importance of local money in relation to technology purchases. He said that the system has spent approximately $9 million on technology since 2010, with only $126,000 of that coming from state funds.
Local revenue will be used to pay for the kits. Local revenue makes up 40 percent of the system’s general fund budget. Neighbors said that 80 percent of the school system’s general fund expenditures are allocated toward instructional services and support.
The board also approved a resolution for school tax renewal. According to Neighbors, this school tax has been in effect since 1965 and the vote will simply be to renew this existing school tax. It does not involve any kind of tax increase. Neighbors added that this tax generates $2 million dollars annually for Opelika City Schools.
In other business, the board:
– approved the 5 year capital improvement plan for Opelika City Schools
– approved a revised copy of the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program Policy for Opelika City Schools
– received an update on ACT information from Opelika High School Principal Farrell Seymore.