GCS will begin looking for a new
tablet provider for 2016-17 school year
Greensboro, N.C. – Guilford County Schools and Amplify, Inc., have agreed to part ways by the end of this school year, according to an agreement approved by the school board this evening (Dec. 17).
The new deal allows both parties to exit the current agreement about two years early without incurring any penalties. It also frees GCS from any payment this school year, a savings of about $3.8 million in federal grant expenditures. The district will use the funds to keep the one-to-one program operating at all middle schools through the 2017-18 school year.
The district plans to issue a request for proposals for a new tablet supplier within the next two weeks. The goal is to have a new vendor on board this spring, with new devices in classrooms when school resumes next fall.
Rather than pursue an all-in-one solution as it did with Amplify, GCS plans to separate the device bid from any digital content, software and management services. The district also plans to purchase the devices rather than access them through a service contract.
“We’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way and there’s more on the market now we can take advantage of than there was several years ago,” says Terrence Young, chief information officer. “Our goals remain the same: finding new and better ways of engaging and challenging students more actively in their own learning.”
Young said the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) also is providing more digital resources to public schools, reducing the need for some services previously supplied to GCS by Amplify.
District officials anticipate staggering the re-start in middle schools next fall. Called Personalized Achievement Curriculum and Environment (PACE), the initiative is part of a $35 million grant GCS received from the U.S. Department of Education in 2013 following a national competition in 2012.
“Technology is a necessary tool in classrooms today, and it’s important that all students have access to digital tools and resources, especially in a district like GCS where so many students may not have access at home,” says Robin Britt, director of instructional technology.
While technology puts new and better tools and resources into classrooms, the key to success isn’t the technology but the teachers and the students, according to Britt.
“Personalizing learning is about teachers and students working together to meet each student’s unique learning needs,” says Britt. “Technology and digital content are amazingly helpful, but are always secondary to the talents of our teachers and the growth of students as they learn to work more independently. We’ve seen real magic for kids occur in our classrooms when all of these factors interact in new and powerful ways.”
GCS will start shipping its current tablets back to Amplify in May of 2016 when state testing begins. Amplify was sold by News Corp. in September, 2015.
“The federal grant we received was considered experimental for a reason,” noted Young. “While things clearly didn’t go as smoothly as we would have liked the first year, a lot of great work has been accomplished since then and our students have benefited as a result.”
About Guilford County Schools
Guilford County Schools, the third largest school district in North Carolina, serves nearly 72,000 K-12 students at 127 schools. With approximately 10,000 employees, GCS works alongside local parents, businesses and colleges to deliver an education that connects student interests and skills with the careers and economy of our future here and around the world. Guilford County is also a Say Yes to Education community, giving eligible GCS graduates the opportunity to apply for last-dollar tuition scholarships to attend any 2- or 4-year public institution in North Carolina. Combining choices to meet the individual educational needs for a culturally diverse citizenship and new opportunities makes our families say, “GCS, Yes!” For more information, visit the district’s website at www.gcsnc.com."
- A Press Release