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THS computer lab closed D temporarily

Renee Shadforth

The Tahoe Truckee High School technology lab is pretty standard as far as computer labs go. There are 35 personal computers and a white board at the front of the room all under the flat glow of fluorescent lights.

But this week, the computers were shut down and the lights were turned off.

Some students say they’re ready to see the lab re-open as soon as possible.

“I think this lab is a really important part of the school,” freshman Kevin Barchas said while working on a PowerPoint presentation in the technology lab on Friday. “I really think that the school should hire someone to fill the position.”

Last week some students and teachers were concerned the high school’s technology lab, which was open to students and the public until Oct. 10, would become another casualty of state budget cuts in public education.

Chris Cosper, the lead instructional aide for computers, resigned from Truckee High last week to pursue a job at University of Nevada, Reno. Many students and teachers say they are worried the district won’t hire a replacement for Cosper, thus closing the open lab times to students and the community.

“If it’s a position we need to fill D and that certainly is D then we’ll post the position and hopefully hire the most qualified applicant,” said Jo Lynn Wilson, assistant superintendent of personnel for the school district.

Despite rumors that the school district has implemented a hiring freeze this year, Wilson said the district’s hiring practices are back on track unless the state enforces mid-year budget reductions like last year.

“That position is pretty critical to the high school,” Wilson added.

However, until the position is filled, the technology lab will be closed. There are a few smaller computer labs on campus, but none are open to the public.

Since last week, the technology lab was open to the public several hours each weekday after school. It was a time, Cosper said, when people without Internet access could come into the technology lab and communicate with friends and family all over the world.

Now there are not enough bodies to keep the technology lab open to the public, and classes will only be allowed in the lab on a limited basis until someone is hired to fill Cosper’s position.

For now, Jon Halvorsen, a teacher and technology coordinator at the high school, will be the only on-site computer technician. Halvorsen said he and Cosper did 99.9 percent of the school’s computer troubleshooting.

“We’re going ahead with the assumption the position will be filled,” Halvorsen said.

Until someone is hired, teachers might be able to sign up to use the lab with their classes on a limited basis, but many teachers don’t think they’re equipped to supervise a computer lab, Cosper said.

“I’ve heard a lot of feedback from teachers saying, ‘How am I going to supervise the lab? I don’t know computers.’ [Teachers] shouldn’t be expected to run a computer lab,” Cosper said.

Halvorsen might offer brief training session to instruct faculty how to run the lab.

Jason Estabrook’s ninth-grade global studies class offered to start a letter-writing campaign to keep the lab open. Instead, Estabrook’s students wrote a stack of thank-you letters to Cosper to show their appreciation.

Most teachers, Estabrook said, don’t want to see the lab hours limited.

“It’s horrible,” he said. “They want us to be a cutting-edge high school, but part of that is teaching technology. In order to be competitive in the world today, these students need that.”

Truckee High Principal Mike Finney said he has placed a position request to replace Cosper. The request will go through personnel, then to budget staff and, if approved, to the school board.

“It’s a key position for us,” Finney said. “Chris and Mr. Halvorsen, in terms of technology, are why we’re usually up and running.”

However, if the position wasn’t filled, he said he would understand.

“These are tough times,” he said.

Free Internet access is also available at the Truckee Library from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.


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