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22 June 2006
JSU Helping Anniston High School Following Arson

Jacksonville State University is offering several avenues of help to Anniston High School as it recovers from a catastrophic loss that occurred during a May 19 fire.

JSU President William A. Meehan said, "When a tragedy of this proportion strikes a local school system, Jacksonville State University will do everything within its means to help. In this case, JSU is offering personnel, expertise, the lease of about 50 computers and the lease of compressed video equipment.

"JSU will be able to deliver on these offers of assistance just as soon as Anniston school officials are able to provide us with their guidelines for implementation."

Dr. Rebecca O. Turner, JSU's vice president for academic and student affairs, said university officials have met with Dr. Sammy Felton, city school superintendent, and other city and school leaders to develop a plan for implementing measures effectively. "What we've started is a very energizing partnership that will provide badly needed resources to Anniston High School along with the university's expertise," said Dr. Turner.

"There's a great deal of positive here -- we're offering to lease approximately 50 computers to establish a computer lab, and we're also leasing compressed video equipment that's not currently in use by JSU and that can be moved to a space in the high school for dual enrollment. The high school can also use this equipment for continuing education purposes and graduate studies and even to fill other niches they may find down the road."

JSU's quick assistance is made possible because of its tie-in with the Fiber Optic Grant Project in Calhoun County. In addition to providing equipment, the university will contribute personnel and expertise, particularly in computer technology and library science. William Hubbard, university library, contacted Dr. Charles Gregory, AHS assistant principal, with specific offers of help. "We can offer computer equipment, which could be installed immediately," said Hubbard in a June 16 letter to Dr. Gregory. Longer range, Hubbard said, JSU might be able to assist in other ways, which would be determined in discussions with the AHS librarian. Hubbard said he is waiting to hear from Dr. Gregory and is ready to get started.

Randy Harper, JSU's vice president for Information Technology, said, "We are currently replacing a number of computers on campus as a part of our Technology Replacement program, which replaces technology at the end of its life cycle. We have offered to temporarily relocate some of the computers being replaced to Anniston High School as an interim solution until new computers can be purchased and installed. Members of our staff will provide assistance to Anniston High School technical support personnel in configuring and installing the computers. Our staff will also work with AHS and JSU Distance Learning personnel to ensure that appropriate telecommunication facilities are procured for operation of the JSU compressed video system that will be installed at AHS." Initially, the compressed video link would be established via a T1 line.

Dr. Sherri Restauri, director of JSU's Office of Distance Education, said the link might eventually include a point-to-point wireless system, if desired, to connect Anniston High School to Houston Cole Library at a transmission rate of 300 megabits per second. "We're thrilled that Mr. Donald Stewart is going to help fund the connection for the computer access," said Dr. Restauri. Mr. Stewart confirmed that he will fund the connection. "The original timeline was to have this live by the start of the school year, in August 2006," said Dr. Restauri. "However, this timeline is strongly dependent on a number of technological factors."

In summing up JSU's commitment to help, Dr. Joe Delap, JSU's associate vice president for academic affairs, said, "JSU wants to do all that it can to assist in getting Anniston High School's library fully operational and has extended an offer of material and consultative support toward that effort, within state guidelines. Additionally, we need to ensure that Anniston High School is prepared to participate fully in the countywide fiber-optic educational network that is being established to assist with sharing of educational resources among and between area school systems and JSU.

"As President Meehan pointed out several months ago at the inception of the fiber-optic project, the resulting benefit of connecting Anniston, Jacksonville and Oxford High Schools with JSU is the ability to offer college-level courses to high school students on their own campuses. Those working on the fiber-optic project -- and on ensuring Anniston High School's participation -- want to turn what Dr. Meehan called 'a wonderful vision' for education into a reality."

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