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Putnam hires company to consider schools' tech efficiency

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Putnam County school board members hired a company Monday night to make sure technology in the county's schools is being used efficiently.Two computer techs and a project manager from Datacom Specialists, an Ohio company, will begin monitoring technology throughout the county on Feb. 1, Superintendent Chuck Hatfield said."They'll make recommendations and oversee our efficiency," he said.During the company's first year working with Putnam they'll be paid $440,000. However, Hatfield said county expenditures have been rearranged so that only about half of that money will be a new expense."Hypothetically, they could say, 'OK, we've got 30 servers and we only need 15, or instead of every teacher having an inkjet printer we should network those and have one per four or five rooms,'" he said."Technology is an ever-growing area ... we have to be able to keep up in order to provide the best for our kids," he said.Depending on performance, the school board could hire them two more years, according to Hatfield. Datacom was the lowest bidder, he said. Also at the meeting, the total cost of damage caused by last summer's derecho windstorm was factored into the budget. It's more than $100,000."It doesn't take much when $20,000 awnings start dropping," Hatfield said.About $111,700 worth of damage was done to facilities and $10,700 worth of food was lost.Some of that cost will be covered by insurance, Hatfield said.
The massive storm last June left hundreds of thousands across the state without electricity and damaged several of Putnam's schools.Several broken windows were reported at Winfield Middle School and a rooftop heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit at Poca Middle School was knocked over.An awning at West Teays Elementary School also was blown off."It sounds like a lot of money, and it is a lot, but it doesn't take much when there's quite a bit of damage at two or three sites," Hatfield said. "It adds up pretty quickly."
Hatfield also noted that the labor to repair damage was factored into the cost.Finally, new state Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares is expected to attend the board's Feb. 4 meeting, Hatfield said. A presentation will be given about Buffalo High School's new project-based learning and technology program, an "innovation zone" that got started when the fall semester began.Reach Kate White at or 304-348-1723.   
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