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Richmond County upgrades Internet security software to protect students

Filtering software

Kim Stripling, director of media and instructional technology, said the filtering system is compliant with the Children's Internet Protection Act. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 4, 2011)

News 12 This Morning / Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As parents and students hand over personal information at the start of the new school year, schools are making sure to guard that information and your child's security on the Internet closely.

Glenn Hills High School is one of the first schools to have a new software that allows teachers to monitor every move a student makes on a computer.

This school year, the Richmond County School Board is revamping online security in schools. New software provides a new way to store student information and there are also new online filters.

Kim Stripling, director of media and instructional technology, said the filtering system is compliant with the Children's Internet Protection Act.

The filtering system may be a little too good, blocking sites some students could need for research.

"We're getting a lot of phone calls," Stripling said. "People are calling to ask to unblock sites. JROTC might need to go to a weapons site, but those are blocked."

As media specialists like Stripling work on unblocking some websites, students may notice IMPERO, a new software that allows teachers to monitor every click they make.

"In a lab setting, the teacher would be able to see a thumbnail of each computer and would be able to make sure students stay on task," Stripling said.

IMPERO also allows teachers to freeze the screen and send messages. The makeover in the technology department also includes 500 new computers for schools nationwide at $1,000 each.

"We buy as much RAM, as much hard drive space, as much as we can get. Our computers have had to last seven, eight, even 10 years," Stripling said. "Funding for computers and IMPERO did not come from general funds."

This year all the information parents and students fill out at the beginning of the year will be stored on a new system as well.

"Pinnacle is our student information system," said Louis Svehla with the Richmond County School Board. "So not everybody can go in and see every bit of information. Just those that need to see specific information can see it."

The budget was also a major concern this year, but the school board says it wanted to keep up with changing technology. The new computer programs cost $500,000 and IMPERO came with a price tag of $144,000 to install district-wide.

The school board says that money came from SPLOST funds.


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