Morton testifies before House

Published 10:13 am Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Harlan Independent Superintendent C.D. Morton was recently invited to speak before the House Budget Review Subcommittee for Education and Workforce Development at the Capitol in Frankfort.

Joining Dataseam CEO Brian Gupton and Dr. John Trent from the Brown Cancer Center, the three gave testimony regarding the impact Dataseam has on the Commonwealth.

During the hearing, Gupton outlined the historical developments of Dataseam and the funding sources used to spark the innovative approach to accelerating cancer research while investing in the local human capital in eastern and western Kentucky. Noting the significance that seams of mined coal has had on the state, Gupton pointed out that it would be seams of data that would drive the next generation of 21st century students and workers.

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“The success of students today and the commonwealth workforce of tomorrow will depend on being exposed and trained to use computers in every aspect of what they do,” Gupton said. “The innovative approach we have taken provides high level professional development for communities, millions of dollars of computing power to schools while at the same time partnering with Dr. Trent and the Brown Cancer Center to help find cures to the cancer that is destroying our most valuable resource — Kentucky lives.”

Since its inception, Dataseam has supplied nearly $25,000,000 of new technology to schools in the Commonwealth, provided training to 8,000 teachers to utilize technology in the classroom and helped provide Kentucky with more industry certified professionals to support this technology than any other state in the US. Additionally, over $2,000,000 of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) career and teacher scholarships from the University Louisville and Morehead State University have been awarded to help retain the Commonwealth’s brightest students.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Dr. Stephen Pruitt testified to the committee prior to Superintendent Morton and gave a preliminary response to Governor Bevin’s proposed budget with regard to the impact on K-12 education. Highlighting more than $220,000,000 in proposed cuts to education, Commissioner Pruitt painted a bleak picture for Eastern Kentucky school districts.

“Now more than any other time we need as many cooperative programs as we can possibly get,” Morton stated. “With dwindling state and local resources, programs like Dataseam allow us to leverage funds to fill voids in the opportunities we offer for students. Dataseam has invested more than $500,000 into Harlan Independent over the last decade.”

Harlan Independent has earned nearly 600 workstation as one of the original partners with Dataseam.

School districts across the commonwealth are annually awarded state funds that must be matched with local funds to support a wide range of technology needs. State allocations vary from year to year and are often far less than what it takes to adequately satisfy the appetite of a generation of 21st century students. Under the Governor’s current budget proposal, the state allocated KETS (Kentucky Education Technology System) funds would see additional cuts, resulting in even less services and equipment for students therefore increasing the local burden.

“Without the partnership of Dataseam over the last decade to fill in this gap, I cannot put into words how timely their support has been to many school districts,” Morton said. “With their help providing student and teacher workstations and professional development, we have actually been able to implement expensive wiring and wireless upgrades across our campus that would have otherwise been impossible to do.”

At a time when eastern Kentucky is at the epicenter of many of the nation’s worst health issues, collaborative approaches will be necessary in order to see sustained improvement. Obesity, opioid abuse, and cancer are just of the few issues that communities across Kentucky are struggling to overcome.

“The opioid epidemic is real and very serious, but please remember that over six-times more Kentuckians die from Lung Cancer and tobacco-related illness each year,” Trent said. “The Dataseam resource enables us to perform 10-fold more research in a year, effectively 10 years in one. To put that in perspective, there are still some cancers where there is no five year survival.”

Through the services of Dataseam, 1,200 years’ worth of cancer research is conducted every month. Harnessing the power of thousands of networked computers Dataseam is utilizing this computing power to seek cures to one of our most deadly diseases. Dr. John Trent of the Brown Cancer Center located on the University of Louisville campus, stated that Dataseam’s innovative approach has helped the Commonwealth secure an additional $41,000,000 in federal grant funds to further support cancer research. The actual estimated economic impact is closer to $110,000,000 due to the compounding effect of investments made beyond the General Assembly appropriation.