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May 20, 2005

Medications and Health Care at School Q&A

1. Does the school provide medications?

No, the school does not provide medication. Medication must be brought to the front office or school clinic by the parent/guardian. An “Authorization to Administer” medication form must be completed.

2. May the parent/guardian bring and give medications to their student?

Yes, a parent/guardian may come to school and give their child medication. Appropriate visitor sign in procedures should be followed.

3. Where can I find authorization forms?

Authorization forms are found in the front office, school clinic, or online. To find forms online go to Locate “Superintendent” on the left hand side of the page, and then click on “Administrative Rules.” Click on Section “J-Students.” Find Administrative Rule JLCD (Student Welfare: Medication). Click on the Form needed.

4. Why do I need a doctor's note for adult strength over-the-counter medication when my doctor has told me this is appropriate for my student’s weight (or condition)?

The school nurse wants to protect your child and must follow guidelines for dosage recommended by the manufacturer.

5. How do students get their medications at the After School Program (ASP)?

The principal, with input from the licensed school nurse, and the After School Program Director, will determine by whom and how medication will be secured and administered at ASP.

6. Why do medications have to be in the original container?

The original container provides information from the manufacturer about over-the-counter medications, including the name of the medication, the proper dose, how the medication should be given, how often the medication can be given, possible side effects, and when the medication is no longer effective (an expiration date).
The original prescription container includes the name of the medication, the patient’s name, the prescribing doctor, the proper dose, how and when it should be given, how long the medication shpuld be given, when the medication expires, and the pharmacy where the medication was purchased. All of this information is necessary for the school nurse to administer medication in a safe manner.

7. What if my child’s medication or dosage changes?

Parents/guardians must inform the school nurse of any medication changes. New medication or different doses will not be given unless the parent completes a new medication form. The information on the prescription bottle label must match the new consent form.

8. Can my child take herbal medication at school?

No. Over-the-counter diet pills, vitamins, dietary supplements, including minerals or herbs will not be given.

9. May my child carry cough drops at school?

All students may carry cough drops and throat lozenges as long as an “Over-The-Counter Medication Permission” form is completed and the school nurse has the original completed form on file. The student should carry a copy of the form with the medication. The medication must be kept in the original container.

10. May my child carry over-the-counter medication at school?

Middle and high school students (grades 6-12) may carry certain over-the counter medications: ibuprofen (i.e.: Advil, Motrin, Midol), acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, antacids, cough drops and throat lozenges with a completed “Over-the-Counter Medication Permission Form” on file in the clinic. The student should carry a copy of the form with the medication. The medication must be kept in the original container.

11. Can my child carry his asthma inhaler at school?

Yes, students may carry inhalers, Epipens or insulin with a completed “Authorization for Student to Carry a Prescription Inhaler, Epipen or Insulin” form on file in the clinic.

12. Why is there a place for the health care provider to sign the authorization form for my child to carry their inhaler at school?

The health care provider’s signature indicates that your child has been instructed on the proper use of their inhaler and that your child is responsible for administering it to himself/herself without supervision. The form can be faxed to the doctor and then faxed back to the individual school nurse.

13. Why do I have to have a prescription label on the inhaler?

The prescription on the inhaler includes the child’s name, how often it is to be used and what dose is appropriate for your child. It is difficult to keep the label directly on the inhaler. You can write your child’s name on the inhaler and bring the labeled prescription box to the school nurse.

14. If my child is sick, why can't I bring them medicine and send them back to class?

You can, unless your child has a fever, vomiting, two episodes of diarrhea, a rash that may be contagious, or any other condition that the school nurse or administrator believe may be contagious or disruptive to the class or teacher.

15. If I give my child Tylenol for a fever, can I still send them to school?

If the fever is more than 100.9 degrees F before you give them Tylenol, then your child cannot come to school. Your child may return to school when his/her temperature is below 101 degrees F without Tylenol or any other fever reducing medication for 24 hours, if s/he feels well and is not showing any signs of illness.

16. If I give my child Tylenol for aches and pains can I still send them to school?

Your child is welcome at school while taking Tylenol and any other over-the-counter medication for an injury, dental work, etc. However, if the medication is for a sore throat, earache or flu like symptoms, please keep them at home.

17. Why can’t I put medicine in my child’s lunch box if he/she has to take medicine at lunch?

Medication in a lunch box could be lost or taken by another child. If a staff member found the medication it could be considered an illegal drug with consequences according to the Code of conduct. Medications must be brought to the front office or school clinic by parents/guardians in the original and properly labeled container.

18. If I treat my child for lice can I send them back to school the same day?

Yes. Please bring your child back to the school nurse to be rechecked.

19. Why do I have to bring in a box top to verify lice treatment?

A box top from the product provides the school nurse with the type of treatment that was used and confirms that treatment was provided for the child since a prescription is not necessary for treatment of head lice.

20. How much time do I have to get to the school if the nurse calls me to pick up my child because he's sick?

You, or a person you designate, should arrive within one hour of being called. Most school clinics have an area where your child can rest for a short period of time. You, or a person you designate, must arrive within 15 minutes if your child has a fever of 104 degrees F or higher. Otherwise, 911 will be called.

21. How long will my child’s over-the-counter medication be given at school?

Over-the-counter medication may be given with parent/guardian permission as needed through put the school year. A doctor’s note is required for over-the-counter medication that is given for more than 10 consecutive school days.

22. What happens to my child’s medication at the end of the school year?

All medications not picked-up by parents by the last day of school will be destroyed.

Should you have questions about medication at school, feel free to contact our school nurse or your child's guidance counselor.

Posted by Tim Tyson at 1:24 PM

8th Grade Dance

The 8th Grade Dance last night was a tremendous success. I want to thank the many parents who assisted in decorating for the event. Everything looked spectacular. I think we had more parents attend the reception than any past dance. Our students looked fantastic and had a wonderful time. Truly, the dance was an event they will always remember. Thanks to everyone for making this so special!

Posted by Tim Tyson at 12:57 PM

2005 CRCT Grade-level Averages

The graphs below represent the average score in each subject in each grade level. The cutoff score for "on grade level" which is the minimum expectation, is 300. The score of 350 is "above grade-level" or exceeds expectations. As you can see, each grade-level did very well!

2005 Crct1A.002-1 2005 Crct2A.004

2005 Crct3A.006
(Click on an image to enlarge it)

Posted by Tim Tyson at 12:51 PM

May 19, 2005

2005 CRCT School Summary Results

The results from the state 2005 CRCTs have just arrived. Remember, our goal at Mabry is to maximize student achievement. I could not be any more proud of the exemplary work our students and teachers do. Clicking on each picture below will enlarge the picture so you can see it easily. The goal is to increase the purple area and eliminate the yellow.

2005 Crct.001 2005 Crct.002

2005 Crct.003

Congratulations on a job very well done. I am proud of you all!

Posted by Tim Tyson at 10:06 PM

2005 - 2006 Supply Lists

Please download the supply list(s) that you will need for next year. Adobe Acrobat (a free download) is required to read these files and is already installed on most computers.

6th Grade Supply List

(Click the "page" above to download the pdf file.)

7th Grade Supply List

(Click the "page" above to download the pdf file.)

8th Grade Supply List

(Click the "page" above to download the pdf file.)

Posted by Tim Tyson at 1:03 PM

Summer Reading List

Improving reading and writing are important goals at Mabry. Research has shown that the amount and quality of student reading and writing is a major factor in student achievement. Georgia and Cobb County require all middle school students read at least 25 books for 2005-2006. The 3 books you read this summer will count as part of this requirement. All written work for the required summer reading assignments will be collected during the first week of school in August. Writing pieces should be neat, legible (you may write in cursive or use word processing), and stapled together. Be sure to put your name on your work.

A copy of this information was sent home at the end of the school year. The required reading for each grade level is linked to for your convenience. However, this is just one of the assigned readings. Don't forget to download the PDFs for the other readings and assignments.

Rising 6th Grade


Grade6Summer2005 Grade6Summer2005.2
These are both PDFs, so you will need Adobe Acrobat, which is free. Most computers already have this software.

Rising 7th Grade

"The Tiger Rising" (KATE DICAMILLO)

Grade7Summer2005 Grade7Summer2005.2

These are both PDFs, so you will need Adobe Acrobat, which is free. Most computers already have this software.

Rising 8th Grade

"The Pearl" (John Steinbeck)

Grade8Summer2005 Grade8Summer2005.2

These are both PDFs, so you will need Adobe Acrobat, which is free. Most computers already have this software.

Also, let me take a moment to recommend the Media Center Blog to you. Bookmark it, or, better yet, subscribe to it's RSS feed! This same information is located on the Media Center blog as Word documents, not PDFs.

Posted by Tim Tyson at 11:08 AM

May 18, 2005

Charger Day Tentatively Scheduled

What Is Charger Day?
Charger Day is our effort to provide you the convenience of getting many of your beginning of school tasks done in one place at one time. During Charger Day at Mabry, you may:

When Is Charger Day?
We have tentatively scheduled Charger Day for Monday, August 8, 2005, from 11:00AM until 1:00PM. Please note that this is tentative--pending completion of construction. Please continue to check this blog throughout the summer for confirmation of the date and time.

Where Is Charger Day?
Currently, we plan to host Charger Day in the Mabry Covered Play Area and the new Mabry Cafeteria. Parking is always an issue for school-wide events. Parking is available behind the building (entrance from Steinhauer Road) and limited parking will be available in the front of the building (Jims Road). I would suggest carpooling.

What Should I Expect on Charger Day?
The doors will not be opened until 11:00AM. Last year there was a long line to get into the building for those who came early. Toward the beginning of Charger Day there were long lines at each station (PTSA, Pictures, etc.). Those who came later had shorter lines or no lines at all.

The PTSA will have a checklist for each parent when s/he arrives with his/her student. The checklist will also be posted on this blog for download. The checklist will assist you in making certain you get everything done that is available to you. It will also help you find where things are located as we plan to spread stations out to avoid congestion and confusion.

The checklist will contain a list of the supplies you can purchase in the school store, which will be open during Charger Day. Additionally, information as to whom checks should be made payable and for what amounts will be on this sheet. Using the downloadable sheet as your guide, you may have your checks prepared in advance--made out to the correct organization (LifeTouch, Mabry Middle School, Mabry PTSA, etc.) for the correct amounts. Pre-prepared checks will speed up the lines and reduce wait time significantly.

Volunteers will be "labeled" so you can seek them out to ask for assistance if needed.

Students are not to be dropped off at school or left unattended. You will want your child to be dressed appropriately for school pictures. Only sixth grade students and students who are new to Mabry will have the opportunity to find their homeroom in the building.

Why Is the Date for Charger Day Tentative?
We are hopeful the construction inside of the building will be completed on time. If it is, Charger Day will be held as scheduled. Otherwise an alternate plan will be implemented.

Posted by Tim Tyson at 1:20 PM

Mabry Celebrates Top Readers

Img 7004

The state of Georgia requires that every student in grades 6 - 12 read 25 books each year or 1,000,000 words. Mabry students have done very well meeting this standard. All students who have met this requirement (and that's almost every chid at Mabry) will receive a special recognition from the Media Center.

I wanted to do something very special for our top readers from each grade level. We awarded 2 iPod Shuffles and 1 iPod Mini to the top three readers. In order to qualify for the award the students had to carefully document their reading all year long on their reading logs.

Congratulations to Kim in 8th grade for reading 58 books this year! She received an iPod Shuffle. Congratulations to Eric in 6th grade for reading 81 books this year! Eric received an iPod Shuffle! And congratulations to Sarah, in 7th grade, who read an unbelievable 167 books this year. Sarah loves to read and read almost 1 book per school day--incredible job Sarah!

I am proud all of our Mabry students who read 25 or more books this year, and I am especially proud of these top readers!

Posted by Tim Tyson at 9:51 AM

May 17, 2005

Rising 6th Grade Immunizations

Georgia law requires that each child entering the sixth grade show proof that he/she has received a second dose of measles vaccine or has immunity to measles. In addition, starting with the 2001-2002 school year, children entering sixth grade must also provide documentation that they have had the chickenpox disease or the vaccine.

Most children entering the sixth grade have had two doses of measles vaccine, and many have had the chickenpox disease. If that is the case, you will need to get this documented on a new supplemental vaccine certificate, Form 3189 (rev 8/00), or a new school certificate, Form 3231, before school starts in August. Both of these forms are available through your child’s pediatrician or your local Board of Health.

This is law. As a public school we must abide by all Georgia laws. Unfortunately, if your child does not have the above-mentioned documentation, your student will be withdrawn from Mabry and will not be able to attend until such documentation is provided.

The purpose of this letter is to inform you so you have time over the spring and summer to review your child’s records with your private physician or visit the community health center in order to secure the proper documentation. As always, my intention is to avoid situations where a child is unable to attend school due to lack of vaccination.

Posted by Tim Tyson at 1:05 PM

May 13, 2005

Top Math Performers at Mabry

Each year we sponsor a contest to recognize the highest level of math performance at Maby Middle School. The first round of competition: Eighth grade students with the highest math scores on nationally-normed standardized math tests are invited to participate in a rigorous math competition. The second round is the math examination, held before-school, for those students who have chosen to participate from the eligible group. This year we had 10 students who qualified and chose to take this difficult and demanding math test. In the final round of competition, the three top-scoring students compete, solving challenging math problems in an assembly in front of the entire eighth grade class.

Congratulations to these qualifying students who participated:

Congratulations to these three finalists:


Congratulations to Miles, who won the Pythagorus Award! I also want to publicly congratulate Miles. He won third place, individual, for the state Math Counts Competition which placed him on the official Georgia Team that competed in the national competition! I want to also mention that Shreekanth won the Cobb County Countdown Round in the Math Counts Competition. Congratulations students, we are proud of you!

Posted by Tim Tyson at 1:37 PM

Mabry Dress Code, 2005 - 2006

Plans for a wonderful 2005-2006 school year are already in the works. As you and your students relax over the summer and then begin back-to-school shopping, the following information should assist you in our efforts to promote the most effective learning environment for our middle school students.

In middle school, students are making the transition from childhood to young adulthood. Hair styles and clothing should not draw undue attention so as to distract from learning. We want to have a dress code that is conducive to the formality of the school learning environment. Our primary focus is maximizing student academic achievement.

Unacceptable attire:

I appreciate your cooperation and support of the Mabry Middle School dress code. Again, middle school students can so easily be distracted from learning. Our focus in every regard must be academic performance.

Posted by Tim Tyson at 10:59 AM

May 12, 2005

Middle Grade Writing Assessment 2005 Data

2005 Data.002
Every year 8th grade students across the state of Georgia take the state-mandated Middle Grades Writing Assessment. I am pleased to report our students' achievement on this assessment. Click on the picture to the left to view an enlarged picture.

The top bar represents the performance of our Mabry 8th graders. The middle bar represents the achievement of all students in Cobb County. The bottom bar desribes the results for the state as a whole.

The yellow portion of each respective bar represents the percentage of students who scored below grade level at Mabry, in Cobb County, and in the State of Georgia. The blue portion or each bar represents the percentage of students that are on grade level. The purple portion represents the percentage of students who are achieving above grade level.

The percentages on the bottom bar pictured above (11%, 76%, and 12%), representing the state scores, do not add up to 100% because of rounding.


2005 Data 003-12005 Data 002-1

Posted by Tim Tyson at 4:48 PM

May 8, 2005

For Rising 6th Grade Parents

Last Monday we had the Rising 6th Grade Open House for parents. I always enjoy meeting and talking with the parents of our rising sixth graders. We had several important things to share which I will include summarized in this post. Additionally, I am presenting a few other items for you.

As your principal, I consider safety as my foremost responsibility. I want to be certain that every child and staff member is safe at all times so that all of their attention can be focused on maximizing academic achievement. In this regard, I ask that every adult always sign in when arriving at the building. Please do not be offended if you are stopped in the building and asked to identify yourself and return to the front office if you inadvertently enter the building without signing in.

Naturally, since you are reading this, you are aware of my blog, From the Desk of Dr. Tyson. I will post to this blog throughout the summer and the school year to keep you informed of various important matters. Additionally, next year, all teachers at Mabry will have a blog to facilitate communication with parents and students.

At the beginning of the year I will host an evening meeting at Mabry to teach parents how to set up what is called an RSS feed for all of your student's teachers' blogs. Using RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds, you will be able to have any new information posted on a teacher's blog come to you. This should prove to be a convenient and effective way to remain "in touch."

Summer Camp
Because we will have a significant amount of demolition and renovation in our building throughout the entire summer, we will not be able to have our summer camp for rising 6th grade students. Hopefully, if funding allows, this wonderful program, which we started 2 years ago, will return next summer.

Construction Information
Once the construction project is completed at Mabry (about $8.8 million in work), our school's physical plant will have increased from 100,000 square feet to 150,000 square feet. The construction company has really done a very good job of minimizing disruption to the learning environment. They delayed doing all of the interior work until this summer. Additionally, this summer the back parking lot will be repaved and the front entrance and parking area will be completely redone. I am hopeful everything will be completed by the time teachers return from summer vacation.

Please visit my blog from time to time as I will keep you posted as to how things are progressing.

Charger Day
Last year, just before school started, we held Charger Day, a time for parents to bring their student(s) to Mabry to have their school pictures taken, purchase their school picture package, a yearbook, school lunches, school supplies, etc. We wanted it to be as much of a back-to-school, one-stop-shopping event as possible. Aside from having to manage in a large crowd of people, we received tremendously favorable responses to this event.

We plan to have this shop-till-you-drop event again just before school starts. I will share the date with you here on my blog, on the school website, and on the front sign (if it is still there) once we feel more confident that the construction completion dates will actually be met.

I also want to let you know that the school supplies made available to you for purchase from our PTSA during Charger Day are typically substantially less expensive than you will find in the stores. The PTSA purchases them in bulk quantities and passes that savings directly on to our school community. We know having children in school is expensive and want to help you in every way that we can. Several parents commented to me last year that they wished they had not already purchased their school supplies before Charger Day as they paid more for them.

Challenging Students
Before school starts parents of 6th graders often express a concern to me that they fear our 6th grade teachers will not adequately challenge their child. Let me allay your concerns. The transition to 6th grade is significant. The new 6th grade curriculum is rigorous, and the math curriculum is substantive. (See my previous post on the math curriculum.)

Our teachers will work diligently to help your son or daughter successfully transition into 6th grade. In the meantime, I hope you will join me in emphasizing to your child the need for him or her to do their best work. I will stress to our students on the very first day of school that each of them needs to do their personal best, needs to see how far they can go, and needs to attain more than they think is possible. Working together elicits the success we all want to see at Mabry Middle School.

Our mission here is simple and direct: maximize student achievement in a culture of caring.

No Child Left Behind
By now I think everyone is familiar with some aspects of this federal legislation. I want to be certain you are aware of some very important information related to the law. The federal government requires all schools in the nation to be labeled as passing or failing. Each state was required to enact legislation that met the federal criteria. In the state of Georgia every school must meet the following criteria or will be labeled a failing school:

Stealth Parenting the Adolescent
When students reach middle school they want mom and dad to give them more freedom and responsibility. In other words, they want you to "back off." What their peers think tends to become more important to them than what the adults in their lives think. If you don't believe me, just suggest to your child that you will be having lunch with him or her in the cafeteria one day. Most would rather die. Since we want children to grow into responsible adults, this is not necessarily a bad thing--as long as their peer relationships are positive, supportive, and deeply rooted in your families values.

Children at this age begin to search out their identity and form a sense of self. Often this is a time of experimentation. There are times when mom and dad need to say and mean "No." I can not suggest strongly enough to our moms and dads that you must be far more involved in your child's life, knowing who s/he is associating with, where s/he is, and what s/he is doing, than you ever have before. Simply give the appearance that you are giving them more "space," allowing them to make more decisions. I call this stealth parenting. Be especially attentive to the music they have playing through those headphones! Listen carefully to the words. Are they consistent with your values?

Research tells us that what (and who) they are listening to literally will affect how their little brains wire up--the neural connections that are formed. Years ago we called it: "Garbage in, garbage out." What they listen to and whom they associate with will affect how they think, what they do, and who they become. Adolescence is a critically important time in their lives.

Recently a mom said something I thought was really significant, "We need to remember that cell phones will only tell us one thing: they're alive--not where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing. These cell phones are giving us parents a false sense of security." Appropriate supervision, especially after school, is essential. Too often my heart gets broken when I hear parents say to me, "Dr. Tyson, I just didn't see this coming."

OK, I'll get off of my soap box. I just want every single child at Mabry to have every opportunity for success. I want them to really be the bright hope of tomorrow. This necessitates more time and attention be spent with them today than ever before--from all of us. As the expression goes: "The future just isn't what it used to be." We accomplish our best work when we are all working together for these children.

If you would like more information on effective parenting strategies for adolescents, study skills parents can use with students, or have some specific concerns related to your child, I would encourage you to contact Mrs. Cindy Jackson, your 6th grade counselor for next year. She is wise and wonderful.

Dress Code
You should receive a copy of the Mabry dress code from your elementary school at the end of the year. We will also post it on the website. I involve students, parents, teachers, and administrators in providing me with input for the dress code. I want students to be comfortable at school, but our school dress code must reflect our commitment to maximizing student achievement, which requires a level of formality consistent with a learning environment that promotes attention to learning and academics. We enforce the dress code at Mabry Middle School.

You will want to carefully review the dress code, but here are just two items of note as you purchase for school next year: no flip flops at school, and no tummies showing. With hormones raging we want to focus on textbooks, not tummies, etc.

Join! Volunteer!! Make a difference at your child's school.

As I Close: School Mission Gains Increasing Recognition
I want to reiterate our school mission: maximize student academic achievement in a culture of caring. We are doing wonderful things here with students. Children are finding success, and people around the metro area, the state, and the nation are taking note of what we do.

From the over 3,300 schools who applied, Mabry is one of 60 finalists nationwide for the significant National Schools of Distinction Model Schools Award. I encourage you to read my post about the recent site visit. This is a significant accomplishment and recognizes the wonderful things our students and teachers accomplish.

The Georgia Movie Academy, a statewide competition for students and teachers, designed to promote technology and information literacy, was started because of and patterned after the Mabry Film Festival. They recently presented our students' work in the Best Picture Category at their statewide event.

This year we had a team of teachers and academic leaders from one of the most prestigious private schools in the metro area spend a day with us. They want to replicate in their school setting some of the innovative, highly engaging and effective programs we have in place here at Mabry.

And, finally, last week we were invited to be featured in the National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence Conference next year.

The recognition is wonderful. But what really matters to me is that we keep our focus on what makes Mabry worthy of the recognition, working together every day as a team to achieve our mission: maximizing student achievement in a culture of caring.

I am delighted that you and your child will be joining us next year.

Posted by Tim Tyson at 3:20 PM

Film Festival News

I hope you take the time to view the Best Picture category movies and student interviews posted on the Mabry web site. All of the movies this year were incredible. So many of them are absolutely broadcast quality. At times I felt like I was watching the Discovery channel as many of the movies are nothing short of true documentaries. All of our movies this year are directly related to what students are studying at Mabry--are right out of the Georgia Performance Standards. Stay tuned to Cobb Education TV. Our movies will be aired soon.

I have been disappointed recently with how we as adults tremendously underestimate what our children can accomplish! And, regrettably, I have to be honest with you and include myself in this group as well. When I watched the 6th grade movies that were submitted for the film festival, I must admit to sarcastically commenting to our ILT that the 6th grade teachers had done a really, really good job this year--an unbelievable job. I thought that the teachers had done the work and not the students and was therefore aggravated.

Our ILT was quick to tell me that she had personally witnessed the students working on these movies--the teachers only guided them and directed them through the learning and creating process, exactly as good teachers should do. When I talked with the various teams of students about the details and intricacies of their movie-making process, I quickly realized that indeed they had made the movies themselves from start to finish. I too was guilty of what I have observed in our county: adults underestimating the potential for the highest levels of excellence that children possess when provided with unparalleled adult guidance and the required resources.

If we are going to say we expect children to do their best and excel at the highest levels of performance and then deny them the resources to actually accomplish that which they are completely capable of accomplishing, then we are at best ignorant and foolish, or, even worse, we are hypocrites or mean spirited. For children to attain at higher levels, adults must contribute at higher levels. Support our students! They are unquestionably highly capable and deserving.

Posted by Tim Tyson at 12:42 PM

Model Schools Grant Site Visit

I wanted to share with everyone some very exciting news. At the beginning of the year we applied for a very prestigious national grant award. In fact, over 3,300 schools across the nation applied for the same award.

Mabry is now a finalist! We are among 60 schools across the nation whose innovative and successful work with students has met the criteria to make it to the final round of competition. Only 20 schools from around the country will be awarded the grant and then serve as a national model for best practices in a variety of categories. We are competing in the technology innovation category.

This is huge! To have made it this far in this highly competitive grant process is an incredible honor!!

The "head guy" selected Mabry for a personal site visit which was held recently. I have to tell you that I love showing off our students and teachers. Our guests spoke very highly of what we are accomplishing with technology.

During their visit, they spoke with several teams of students. The students were awesome! One child just blurted out how movie-making is exactly like going through the writing process. She then did a point-by-point comparison. I thought she had fallen out of the lap of God! Our students are making the connections!

Our guests also had a chance to speak with several teachers. Their vision and the projects on which they are working with students were equally as incredible. The leader of the site team visit said that he wishes to return when he can spend more time with us as he realized that we were barely able to scratch the surface in the time he was with us. He has several amazing ideas on how we can take what we are doing here to the next level of excellence at a national and international level.

Should we win this award, Mabry will receive about a quarter of a million dollars in cash and technology and will be used as a national model for technology implementation best practices. Visitors would come from all over the nation to see what we are doing here. The decision as to who wins will be made this summer and announced next fall.

Everyone buckle your seat belts. We have a really good shot at this!! Our students and teachers are doing incredible things to maximize student learning! This visit honors their exemplary work.

Posted by Tim Tyson at 11:41 AM

May 6, 2005

From the Superintendent:

For Immediate Release May 5, 2005

School District Statement Regarding Recent MDJ Articles

Recent articles and editorials in the Marietta Daily Journal have misrepresented the facts by suggesting that the Cobb County School District and Superintendent Joseph Redden could have secured a better deal for Cobb's laptop computer initiative simply because another school district in another state may have received a lower price. The newspaper reported that Henrico County, Va., schools signed a lower-cost contract with Dell Computer to continue that school district's four-year-old laptop initiative.

On May 4, 2005, reporter Jon Gillooly wrote:

Henrico is paying $270 per computer less with its new contract with Dell than Cobb is with Apple. With the same deal, Redden could have saved approximately $4,266,000 for the $25 million first phase of the contact by negotiating the same contract with Dell that Henrico did, and approximately $17 million for the full contract with the Dell deal.

And on May 5, 2005, an unsigned editorial stated:

A logical step would have been for the board to direct [Redden] to dial Dell and see if it would extend the same lower price-per-laptop contract to Cobb that it had just offered Henrico.

The newspaper is wrong to suggest that Cobb County could have secured the same deal that Dell agreed to with Henrico. As the newspaper is fully aware, Dell is one of four vendors that did bid on Cobb's plan to provide laptops to teachers, upgrade middle school labs, and establish four high school pilot sites where the district will test the concept of issuing laptops to students. Dell's proposal for the four-year lease came in $3.6 million higher than Apple's.

Cobb negotiated with Apple, Dell, IBM and Hewlett-Packard over a period of five months to secure the best deal for its laptop program. Vendors were asked to submit proposals for a comprehensive package that would provide laptops, software, ongoing technical support and training, backup batteries, and an evaluation of the program, among other specifications. Apple offered Cobb a lease price of $350 per computer per year, or a total of $1,400 for the four-year lease. Dell's proposal was $404 per computer per year, and more than $1,600 for the four-year lease. In Henrico, the situation was reversed, with Dell providing the lower bid for that district's specific requirements.

The newspaper implies that the circumstances in Henrico and Cobb were the same and that the vendors were bidding on identical projects. But clearly, the circumstances and needs in each school district are very different. Henrico's laptop program, for instance, has been place for four years and the district has a well-established technical infrastructure already in place. That already established infrastructure will facilitate the transition to the next phase of Henrico's program. In addition, all of Henrico's teachers and many of its students are already trained in the use of the laptops. This training will also facilitate Dell's rollout in Henrico.

In Cobb County, the introduction of laptops to teachers and students is a brand new concept. Technical infrastructure, training and support will have to be built from day one of the program.

To reach its conclusion that Cobb could have attained the same price from Dell, the newspaper assumes:

It is likely that the different circumstances in each system played a major role in what the vendors were prepared to bid on each project. Cobb County accepted the lowest bid for its laptop initiative following months of rigorous negotiation, as did Henrico. Both school districts did very thorough jobs of negotiating contracts that will provide the best use of taxpayer dollars for their respective programs. For the newspaper to imply that all factors were equal, and that Cobb could have secured the same deal with Dell as Henrico, is disingenuous at best. Dell had an opportunity to win the contract for Cobb's program, but its bid was $3.6 million too high.

Henrico's deal presents many encouraging signs that the newspaper has chosen to ignore. For one, it shows that there is flexibility for school districts to switch computer vendors, because laptop programs are about using technology to teach students, not about which computer is used. Henrico's deal is also a positive sign that, should Cobb choose to continue its laptop program in the future as Henrico has, it can expect lower pricing once its support infrastructure and training are developed.

But the most important news from Henrico is that the school board and community have overwhelmingly supported continuing their laptop initiative, and that the program is beginning to show real benefits for students in the classroom. Cobb County is looking forward to similar results from its Power To Learn program in the near future.

Posted by Tim Tyson at 6:32 PM

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