District considers technological tweaks

Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — The Greater Jasper School Board is considering a new direction for technology services to streamline the process of bringing devices to students and teachers.

At a board meeting Monday evening, Superintendent Tracy Lorey invited Brian Scott, president of Indianapolis-based Technology Dynamics, to make recommendations to the board based on his assessment of the corporation’s technological assets and current management system. He explained to the board that its outsourcing of many aspects of technology have made its process less efficient. The corporation contracts with The AME Group of Bloomington for computer and network support, with Matrix Integration of Jasper for phone system support and with Hoosier Business Machines of Jasper for printer and copier support.

“You really have no single overlying entity that’s really managing or watching your tech right now,” Scott said. “One of the things we really want to address is trying to make sure we’ve got a more single point of contact to manage that whole situation.”

He said that having proper support for all of the district’s technology devices — which include iPads for corporation teachers and Apple televisions in many classrooms — will ensure a better education for all.

“Technology can affect everything we’re doing, whether its delivery of curriculum or baseline testing. Having all these tools is great, but now we need access,” Scott said. “We really need to get as many devices in the hands of students as possible so they can utilize all these tools. That creates a lot of challenges for how we support that equipment, how we purchase it, how we make decisions on what we’re going to use and how we’re going to use it.”

Scott suggested that the board vote to streamline the technology support with a single vendor that could provide two dedicated staff members to oversee the infrastructure of the school networks and address machines that are in need of repair. He also asked the board to consider hiring a new full- or part-time staff member who could act as a technology curriculum director; the corporation does not currently employ an information technology director.

“If there are 12 apps to support some science or math or chemistry, we need to have some way to vet that and choose the right one. We need to choose the right devices to have access to that technology,” he said. “I would think that if we got somebody that was a district staff member, they could get a lot more plugged into that.”

Scott said that with these changes, the board can expect to see a savings of 15 to 20 percent from current contract costs, which would offset some of the cost of paying for a new staff member.

The consultation with Scott first became necessary when a request for proposals in the spring for an overall network support system came back with widely disparate bids. The contract with The AME Group is set to expire at the end of the year, but the corporation has not yet chosen a replacement. A new, more detailed request for proposals has been sent out, and bids will be opened at 3 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 7. at the corporation office. Scott said he expects the interested companies will now have a better understanding of the corporation needs. Lorey agreed.

“We did not do a good job of clarifying exactly what we wanted from that type of service, and that’s where it left it open to interpretation by those companies who wanted to bid that service,” she said.

Once the bids are received, Scott and Lorey will analyze them for two weeks and bring a recommendation back to the board.

“We’re working to have the most effective type of support with the best efficiency,” Lorey told the board. “We want to get the best quality for the most frugal dollars that we can get and have technology that is useful to our staff as well as our students.”

Contact Claire Moorman at cmoorman@dcherald.com.

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