Washington County Public Schools recently upgraded technology and furnishings in the board auditorium at a cost of $83,666, according to information provided by school system spokesman Richard Wright.
The costs break down into $49,230 for technology upgrades and $34,436 for furnishings, according to emails from Wright.
The technology includes new presentation equipment, wireless microphones and a larger screen for presentations, according to Wright and School Superintendent Clayton Wilcox.
Wright said the software and hardware for the previous presentation system was out-of-date and could not be upgraded to meet the needs for which the room is used.
In addition to housing Board of Education meetings, the auditorium at the Commonwealth Avenue complex also is used for board work sessions, employee training, and for Wilcox’s monthly meetings with principals and supervisors, Wright said.
The new presentation system is mobile and can be used anywhere in the administrative complex or at another site, Wright said.
Previously, some people could not hear or see presentations well, Wilcox said.
The previous screen came down in the corner behind some of the board members’ seats. Board members could turn their seats to watch it, and some will still need to turn to see the new screen.
The new screen comes down in front of the outer wall, alongside the audience seating. That seating can be turned to face the screen for employee training, Wright said.
The new presentation equipment can be run from a podium at which a staff member can stand and operate the equipment. Previously, the board’s secretary ran the software from her station, while the presenter spoke from a table set up in front of the board.
The new presentation system can switch from displaying information from different sources, including the central processing unit hard-wired to the podium and a laptop, Wright said.
Wilcox said people who want to speak to the board during the public-comment section of school board business meetings can stand at the podium or sit at the table in front of the board.
The school system also purchased 30 tables and 90 chairs for the auditorium, Wright said.
Wilcox said the new tables have skirts to “preserve modesty.”
The school board’s meetings are recorded and televised with one camera angle focusing on those seated at the presentation table.
Wright said the new furniture takes up less space when stored and can be set up and broken down easier, since the chairs and tables are on wheels.
The older furniture from the auditorium was taken to Eastern Elementary and E. Russell Hicks Middle schools, which needed it, Wright said.