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Community colleges buy laptops for remote learning; Murphy to Gadsden State

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

The Alabama Community College System is buying 10,000 laptop computers as part of remote-learning efforts necessitated by the Coronavirus.

The Laptop Loaner Program, approved by the ACCS board on Wednesday, will be funded by federal CARES Act money,

The ACCS will procure laptops for 1/16th of the student population to assist low-income and other students within special populations with remote-based learning caused by the pandemic, system spokeswoman Rachel Adams told Alabama Daily News.

The laptops will be assigned to colleges based on headcount.

The computers cost $800 each.

Last month, Gov. Kay Ivey said $72.3 million in the state’s about $1.9 billion federal Coronavirus Relief Fund would be used for higher educations’ remote instruction and distance learning.

“Since July, the state of Alabama has awarded $432,753,000 to various levels of education to ensure that we have a safe and smart continuation of educational instruction,” Ivey said at the time. “COVID-19 has exposed deficiencies in our remote learning capabilities, and I am pleased to award our institutions of higher education the critical funds to enhance their instructional experience.”

The two-year and four-year college systems are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on technology and infrastructure related  to remote instruction and learning.

Murphy to Gadsden State

Also on Wednesday, the ACCS board approved Kathy Murphy as the next president of Gadsden State Community College.

Murphy is currently the superintendent of Hoover City Schools. She’ll begin her new role on Jan. 1, 2021.

“Dr. Murphy is a visionary educator with a proven record of focusing on all aspects of the student experience, which is the leadership we aim for at every community college in our state,” ACCS Chancellor Jimmy Baker said in a written statement. “I am confident that Dr. Murphy’s determination to work alongside the faculty, staff and community at Gadsden State will reap great benefits for the college as they continue to provide the education and skills training needed for Alabama’s workforce.”

Gadsden State includes five campuses and education centers serving Calhoun, Cherokee, Celburne, Etowah and St. Clair counties.

Murphy has been at Hoover City Schools since 2015, prior to that she was superintendent at Monroe County Schools. In 2018, she was one of three finalists interviewed to be the state superintendent of education.

“The opportunity to serve Alabamians in Anniston, Centre, and Gadsden in this capacity is a privilege I am honored to pursue,” Murphy said. “I look forward to working closely with my new colleagues and students to ensure that we are best serving generations of college- and career-bound students who choose Gadsden State as part of their path.”

Murphy has advanced degrees in education from Auburn University and Auburn University Montgomery.

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