VALDOSTA — Members of the Lowndes County Board of Education approved new technology purchases and made a proposal regarding land exchange of property surrounding Lake Park Elementary School.

Mindell Downing, director of special education, spoke to Board members about the benefits of classroom amplification systems to students.

Several Lowndes County schools have already begun using the systems, which are designed to create a clear and constant voice volume, while amplifying a teacher’s voice over ambient noise of the classroom. Downing said the system’s first became available during the 1990s, and recommended that the systems be made available for teachers in grades K-8 as well as art, music and media classrooms.

“In the research done on the amplification, or equalization systems, there were several benefits to the students and teachers and improvements to academic performance. It was discovered that student comprehension improved. These systems allow more mobility for the teachers, vocabulary and reading improve as children hear sounds more clearly, and it decreases vocal strain for the teacher,” Downing told the Board.

One of the major benefits of the four speaker infrared microphone system is that it equalizes the teacher’s voice throughout the classroom. Many times as teachers turn away from the class to write on the board or move about the classroom while teaching, students struggle to hear instruction. With the amplification system, students are able to hear a teacher’s voice, regardless of his or her location or standing position.

Downing believes that using the systems in regular classrooms will be beneficial to all students and especially those with special hearing needs as it can allow those students to spend more time in a regular classroom setting.

The board approved the purchase of 288 units that will be funded through grants allotted for technology upgrades and improvements in special education.

The board also approved the purchase of air conditioning units and alternators for 11 of the system’s buses serving special education students.

Members of the board outlined a proposal to be sent the Lake Park City Council in the upcoming days, stating the terms to which the Board would agree to the exchange of land properties surrounding Lake Park Elementary School.

Nearly a year ago, the City of Lake Park requested that the Board allow an easement along Broadway Street to be converted into a sidewalk for students walking to and from school. Regarding the request, Board members approved a recommendation that would deed a 30-foot section of Broadway to the City of Lake Park, and a temporary 15 foot easement for the construction of a sidewalk, in exchange for all of Gordon Street, the section of Collins Street lying east of Lake Park Elementary, and the portion of Forest Street which extends the length of the Lowndes Board of Education property.

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