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School District Looks at Technology Needs

Old, aging equipment and inefficiencies challenge the district.

The technology committee of the school board recently met with the district’s Director of Technology and Information Services William Smojver to discuss the district’s technology, according to a report at the November meeting from School Board Member and Technology Committee Chair Patrick McCaffery.

They had a long list of questions and issues to discuss since the committee hadn’t meet since June of 2010, McCaffery said.

Current technology projects in the district include:

  • Making several of schools wireless – all secondary schools, STEM Saratoga and and Prairie Elementary schools;
  • Upgrading to software Office 2007 and Windows 2010. Currently, the district has a “hodge-podge” of software, leading to compatibility problems.
  • Working on how to implement a statewide student information system (SIS).

Future budget expenditures for district technology may include infrastructure upgrades because of aging, old and inefficient hardware and equipment; district-wide wireless; the SIS, although it’s possible the state will pay for some of that; and electronic text books and devices that support them, a new trend in education, according to McCaffery.

The committee also discussed the state of school district data and its inefficient flow. Sometimes data has to be entered in to district systems three different times, McCaffery said.

The district is also considering remote access. Currently, if there is a problem at another location, the district has to send a technician to fix it. McCaffery noted that at most large companies, they would be able to use a remote desktop to fix problems but the district doesn’t have that capability.

They are also looking at reviewing technology policies, especially regarding personal devices coming in and leaving district.

Mark McCullough November 22, 2011 at 04:45 AM
It is unfortunate that the school district sees fit to waste money precisely where they could save. Just by requiring that any RFP consider open source alternatives, they could reduce expenditures tremendously. Most people don't need actual Office 2007 and need little more than an elementary word processor, elementary spreadsheet and elementary slide deck software. There are countless such tools, some of which are even designed to emulate the look and feel of Office 2000 in many key ways (e.g. LibreOffice). The higher mathematics teachers who think they need Word for Equation Editor would be better served by far using LaTeX (No, that is not a typo, it really is spelled that way, with the capitalizations), which is used often at college campuses because it is more flexible and produces far better output with less effort. Not every case is well served by open source tools, but enough are to make it worthwhile. Since money is being spent on the OS and office upgrades, that means that it is very unlikely that enterprise licensing is in place that would justify such. Regarding lack of remote desktop, in my field of computer security, one would have to go pretty antique (pre-Windows XP) to find an OS that I couldn't trivially use free remote desktop software and push it out by group policy. This is not hard stuff. Just tell a techie to do it right but with no capital expenditures. Then sit back and watch it get done.

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