1,250 new computers on their way to PA

June 27th, 2015 1:20 am

First Posted: 9/18/2013

Call it Pittston Area 2.0.

Stressing that technology has become a district priority, the Pittston Area School Board on Tuesday night approved purchasing 1,250 new computers, primarily laptops for student and teacher use.

Superintendent Michael Garzella said 1,100 Lenovo Thinkpads and 150 Lenovo desktop PCs for computer labs were ordered last week.

“This gets the devices into the hands of our teachers and students,” Garzella said.

The cost is $577,118 over five years, which amounts to $146,876 for each of four years of the 1.8 percent loan to fund the purchases. Garzella said the money has already been budgeted.

The loan is being furnished through First Keystone Bank and the computers are being purchased through IntegraOne. Both were low bidders.

Ten laptops will be put in each kindergarten through fourth-grade classroom where teachers are starting a hybrid learning initiative. At any given time, one group will receive direct teacher instruction, one group will work on projects and another will use the laptops for math and reading skills.

“Software will allow the teacher to group students based on the data from the computer and it will allow students to move at their own pace,” Garzella said. “We want to get to the point where students aren’t being held back.”

Students in grades five to 12 will have access to carts of 30 laptops.

Garzella said the purchase is the second part of the district’s technology plan. The first, he said, was to upgrade the infrastructure in the schools to make each wi-fi capable. That is being implemented.

All the computers and power adapters will be tagged and inventoried through the district warehouse. The units are replacing outdated computers, said district Technology Director Christy Savakinas. She said 95 percent of the computers are more than five years old.

In other business, the board:

• Unanimously voted to hire Nick Barbieri as a math teacher. Barbieri had been a longtime teacher and assistant football coach at Delaware Valley High School in Milford.

Barberi is the son of longtime Pittston Area football coach Bob Barbieri, who retired in 1988. Bob Barberi had been the coach at the former Pittston High School and Pittston Area for 23 seasons, starting in 1964.

“We hired Nick because we thought he was the best-qualified math teacher; he has a lot of experience,” Garzella said. “And that’s who the (hiring) committee recommended.”

Nick Barbieri was a finalist for Pittston Area football coach when the board ultimatily hired current coach Mike Barrett in 2011. He played for Pittston Area when he was in high school and graduated in 1987.

• Hired Laura Labrutto as a special-education teacher. Board member Kent Bratlee abstained from the vote because he works for the candidate’s father and Joe Kelly abstained because he wasn’t part of the interviews.

• Listened to several complaints from parents of students at the Primary Center. One parent said the drop-off area is often congested and children have to wait outside for the school to open. Another parent said his child had to kneel in the aisle of a school bus becasue there wasn’t an available said. Garzella said he would look into the issues.

• Announced that the annual “I Am Beautiful Game” field hockey game is set for 2 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 6 at the Primary Center field.

• Approved a tax refund of $1,777 for Robert and Jean Boney due to tax abatements from 2009 to 2012.

• Announced that a 2013 GMC Savana cargo van was purchased through COSTARS, a cooperative purchasing program administered by the state Department of General Services Bureau of Procurement for $18,838.

• Announced it is seeking bids for heating oil for the Kindergarten Center. The board voted to close the facility in the summer, but the buildilng must be heated until the building’s fate is determined. Bids will be opened at 11 a.m. on Oct. 9 in the board room of the high school.