The technology infrastructure of the district is managed by our director of information technology, Mr. Keith Schlarb. Managing this infrastructure is, in many ways, no different than managing any other corporate technology infrastructure for a 100 million dollar organization with 20 physical locations, a large, diverse, workforce and constantly changing requirements, but there is a huge difference. Our technology infrastructure must also play an integral part in the education of children, and this is becoming a bigger part of education in each passing year. It is not enough to simply teach children how to use a computer (that's a given), the computer has become an integral part of the entire process. You buy a textbook, you buy software that augments the lessons in the textbook. The Internet is an invaluable tool for almost any classroom and, to state the obvious, technology will be at the heart of any high school redesign.
Our problem is - the last major infusion in technology into the Worthington School District came from a state initiative in 1999. These computers are now 6 years old and many of them are simply inadequate to perform modern tasks. This is a snapshot of our current inventory.
|Years old||Computer Count||Models Include|
|Elementary||8-10||527||Apple 5260 120mhz, Apple 5400 200mhz|
|5-7||1037||Apple iMacs 233-600mhz, G3 266mhz|
|Secondary||6-8||464||Apple iMacs 233-333mhz, G3 266mhz|
|3-5||629||Apple iMacs 400-600mhz|
|1-2||420||20 Pentium IV, 400 thin clients|
|Management||6-10||30||Apple G3 laptops 288-333mhz|
|4-5||270||Gateway E3600 Pentium IV 1.6ghz, E4000 Pentium IV 1.8ghz, E4200 Pentium III 1.1ghz|
|1||6||Gateway M680 2ghz, M275 1.6ghz|
As you can see, almost all of the computers at the elementary school level are 5 years old, while 66% of the computers at the secondary (middle school and high school) are less than 5 years old, however, this bond levy is providing technology money for the next 5 years. Virtually every machine we own will be obsolete in that time, so if we do not get our technology infrastructure on an upgrade cycle, we will be dealing with computers that are basically unusable with the software that will be current in the next 3-5 years. One of the problems with obsolete technology is speed. Even if the software works, it is incredibly slow, and kids will not tolerate slow computers in a video-game X-Box world. They will get distracted or they will simply not use the software, but please, don't take my word for it. The district has set up two computers in room 105 of the Worthington Education Center for the public to try. One is an older computer of the type we are looking to replace. The other is a modern model of the type we are looking to buy. Come on in and try them. You will understand, almost immediately, why the technology upgrade is critical to the district's mission.
We have other problems as well. The majority of our computers are Apple, but the world, outside of select fields, uses PC's. We need to get on a single platform to reduce the personnel costs associated with maintenance, upgrades and so forth, and that platform will be the standard PC.
What, specifically will we do with the money. The first thing we will do is form a task force to identify the areas of need. It would be easy to simply replace our computer inventory, one for one, but that does not serve to optimize your investment in our schools, so we're going to take a little time, form a committee and determine the optimal placement for new computers and other forms of technology. If you approve this levy, we will spend approximately $600K/year on technology in the district which, over 20 buildings and 9500 students, doesn't go as far as you think it will, but with modern technologies such as virtualization, thin clients and a fiber-optic backbone for networking, we will stretch those dollars as far as possible.
Want to read more - click here for a technology overview prepared by Keith Schlarb.