Technology upgrades coming for city schools
by Paige Rentz
With a giant check in hand, Jacksonville Mayor Johnny Smith presented nearly a quarter of a million dollars to the city school system Monday night for technology infrastructure upgrades.

The City Council approved a one-time increase of $228,000 to the school district to upgrade the wireless network capabilities at both the high school and Kitty Stone Elementary.

“This investment that you’ve voted on tonight will impact every child in our school system,” said Superintendent Jon Paul Campbell as he accepted the giant check from the mayor.

The Jacksonville City Schools is in the midst of launching a project to provide an iPad to every child in grades four through 12 and classroom sets for children in younger grades. The money granted by the city will make it possible for the schools’ networks to handle the increase in the number of devices expected to hit their halls come August. Campbell said the upgrades should be complete by June, if not the end of the school year.

The council also considered a resolution to suspend the rules and vote on a new city ordinance to regulate stormwater runoff, but the issue was pushed to the council’s next meeting despite a Feb. 5 deadline from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

Councilman Jonathan Tompkins said he understood the desire to move quickly, but he voted against suspending the rules, a move that requires unanimous approval from the board.

“I don’t feel comfortable moving forward with the vote tonight,” he said, noting that the council received the proposed ordinance on Friday.

Tompkins said he has not had sufficient time to investigate the potential effects of the ordinance on local businesses.

City Planner Lynn Causey told the council during its work session earlier in the evening that the new ordinance just codifies practices that are already in place through the Planning and Building departments and the Planning Commission.

ADEM, Causey said, preferred the city have a standalone ordinance that states best practices for stormwater management for new development, especially that building projects be designed to generate no more stormwater than already exists on the site. The Feb. 5 deadline coincides with the deadline for the renewal of a permit for the local governments to operate a system to drain stormwater runoff.

“They have recommended we adopt it and we adopt it fast,” she said.

Causey said she did not know if the city could face penalties from ADEM if the ordinance wasn’t in place by the deadline. “We want to keep everything on keel with ADEM and start everything off on an even foot,” she said.

In other business, the council:

• Approved a resolution to provide a $600.00 equipment maintenance allowance, with no substantiation report required, for all current police officers in the Police Department.

• Appointed Police Chief Tommy Thompson to the Jacksonville Bicycle Advisory Committee, effective immediately.

• Appointed Richard Turner to the Planning Commission with a term expiring May 2013. [bullet] Approved the employment of Jerrod L. Simmons as the city’s financial control officer/treasurer, effective Feb. 18.

• Approved the employment of Destiny Rochelle Harding as a part-time public safety communications officer, effective Feb. 13.

• Approved the purchase of four laryngoscopes for the Fire Department at a cost of $4,470.95. The devices allow medical professionals to view a patient’s larynx or trachea.

• Requested the Civil Service Board for a list of eligible applicants for the position of library specialist due to the retirement of Lucy Long.

Star Staff Writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.
© 2013