OLFEN - The Olfen Independent School District is gearing up for a significant technology upgrade which will benefit students and educators throughout the district after it was announced last week that the small district on the southern end of Runnels County would be receiving a $50,000 Technology Learning Grant.

OLFEN - The Olfen Independent School District is gearing up for a significant technology upgrade which will benefit students and educators throughout the district after it was announced last week that the small district on the southern end of Runnels County would be receiving a $50,000 Technology Learning Grant.

Olsen ISD is one of about 150 districts selected statewide to receive the grant which is designed to help districts upgrade their technology. Olsen ISD Superintendent Gabriel Zamora said he will use the grant to ad at least 50 new laptops for students as well as 15 hot spots, which allow students to take home and use the computer even if they do not have Internet at home.

“This grant complements perfectly with what we are doing very well,” Zamora said.

Last year, Olfen ISD received a $50,000 grant through the Texas Virtual Schools Network, which allows students to take advantage of not only dual credit courses, but to take courses not otherwise offered at Olfen ISD like some foreign languages or a physics class.

“We implemented that this year to offer a full curriculum,” Zamora said.

The school district, which has 103 students in grades K-12, is on the grow, and the technology upgrade was needed. There are currently computers available to all students, but the grants allow for an upgrade of technology and curriculum offered. The campus has a variety of technology available to students already including Chromebooks, eReaders, laptops and computer labs.

Zamora said the new technology will be purchased over the summer and should be ready for use when the students return in the fall.

That is not all that’s going on at Olfen ISD.

This year, when grades 9-12 were added, Zamora also began offering a program that will allow all students who graduate to have the opportunity to have an associates degree through distance learning courses from Western Texas College of Snyder - all paid for by the district.

“Three years down the road we will be putting students out with associates degrees,” Zamora said.

The goal is for high students to take dual credit courses and to graduate with 60 hours of college credit. This year, some of the first three graduates will have earned 30 hours by graduation day slated for May 22.

Zamora said he hopes to grow the student body over the next several years, but not too much.

Next year the goal is to have between 115-120 students. The students come from as far away as San Angelo as well as from Ballinger, Eola and Paint Rock.

Zamora said transfers are available, but there will likely be a waiting list for students next year, since the district began the four day option week and paid tuition.

Students must “make the grade,” Zamora said.

“Students know that if they want to keep their spot, they must work hard at it,” said Zamora. “We are an excellent, growing district - one of the best in the region.”