Technology Overhaul Critical for CCPS

As the walls of the new high school begin to shape the Clarke County Public School system may finally be close to providing students with the technology that has become such an important component of modern education. Although the technology plan released earlier this week was labeled “draft” the School Board is already acting on some recommendations contained in the documents.

According to the  “2010 – 2015 Technology Plan” the proposed technology improvements are coming not a moment to soon. The technology plan, authored by Technology Services Director David Baggett with assistance from other CCPS administrators, paints a bleak picture for Clarke students when it comes to information technology.

“The use and application of classroom technology is probably the greatest infrastructure challenge for the division. As a general rule, the division has not provided reliable and appropriate classroom technology. Our reliance on end-of-life equipment has produced a general and pervasive level of frustration among students, teachers and IT staff. None of the hardware in our classrooms is standardized and most of it was not selected based on the needs of our teachers or students.  For far too long the division has been forced to do with whatever can be salvaged or found on the cheap, instead of evaluating the hardware and software that is available and selecting the best products available for our students, as based on the needs of the instructional program.”

In the document, Director Baggett levels strong criticism at practices that drain valuable staff time and funds through penny-wise-and-pound-foolish technology decisions.

“The IT department has made very little progress in improving the quality of technology in classrooms. Essentially, the division has been replacing totally unusable computers with end-of-life systems. This is, essentially and honestly, a tremendous waste of staff time.

In addition to outlining equipment and practices needed to improve the school system’s technology instruction The Technology Plan itemizes the the school system’s need to dedicate funding to replace 20% of all of its computers every year. The replacement recommendation includes abandoning the school system’s practice of accepting donations of end-of-life equipment which results in more effort to maintain than simply purchasing new equipment.

Although the report outlines the technical frustrations associated with maintaining the school division’s IT resources; for example hard drives that are typically too small, too little computer memory, hardware components that fail at an alarming rate, excessive time spent trying to coax virus protection software and other standard applications to work on archaic systems never designed to handle the software, the magnitude of the problems raises questions of just whether Clarke students are benefiting at all from the division’s technology platforms.

At Monday’s School Board meeting CCPS took a preliminary step toward replacing the antiquated computers, on average seven years old, throughout the division.  (See table below.) However, larger challenges remain to be addressed. The school system’s backbone network still does not properly support the various buildings with bandwidth and file transfer problems common. However, the  bigger challenge may be in providing instructors who are knowledgeable with current software and approaches. In many cases, students have personal access to both software and equipment  that is years ahead of what is being taught in the classroom.

“Students today are attached to their mobile devices” Director Baggett told the School Board Monday night”. “Donated equipment that can be used to create a MS Word document doesn’t really engage them.”

Baggett said the challenge is finding ways to use technology in a way that students are familiar with.

But regardless of the technology Baggett said that having local support staff, referred to as ITRT positions, is critical in successfully implementing the division’s technology plans.

On Monday night the School Board began consideration on the division’s technology refreshment budget. The following costs and requirements may change as the CCPS Technology Plan moves toward finalization.

Item Quantity Req Est. Cost per Unit Est. Install Cost Total ($)
Classroom Smart-Boards 35 1500 TBD $52000
Laptop Carts / 24 laptops per cart 30 25000 TBD $750000
Computers Specified by CRA
18 regular classrooms 36 800 TBD 28800
2 business labs 58 800 TBD 46400
4 business classrooms 4 800 TBD 3200
4 SPEDclassrooms 9 800 TBD 7200
3 Biology/Science Labs 3 800 TBD 2400
3 Science labs and 1 Science classroom 5 800 TBD 4000
2 Art classrooms 4 800 TBD 3200
3 computer technology labs 68 1200 TBD 81600
Band 4 800 TBD 3200
Media Center 67 800 TBD 53600
Administration Offices 13 800 TBD 10400
2 Faculty Rooms 12 800 TBD 9600
A. D. Nurse 3 800 TBD 2400
Nurse’s classroom 3 800 TBD 2400
Gym and C110 Office 3 800 TBD 2400
AG Technology 14 800 TBD 11200
Team and Weight Rooms 3 800 TBD 2400
Printers (To Be Determined)
309 $274400
Security Cameras
Interior Cameras 102 1500 TBD 153000
Exterior Cameras 33 2300 TBD 75900
Exterior Cameras – Pole Mounted 21 2300 TBD 48300
156 $277200
Phone System 135 $50,000
Photocopy Machines 6 $102000
Intercom, Paging, Bells, Clocks TBD TBD
Information Technology Infrastructure TBD TBD

Comments

  1. Doug Landry says:

    This report and plan is long overdue. It spells out both what the employees have dealt with and the costs associated with doing it right. The plan’s not an overexaggeration of the needs, either, but it is critical that the students and staff have access to adequate and appropriate technology to take full advantage of the online and other resources out there. And…based on the numbers above, that looks like just for the new high school; that doesn’t come close to addressing the other buildings.

    • Tell the BOS to come up with the money. They have 2 choices, raise taxes now on the residents, or make another feeble attempt to attract businesses while holding onto the antiquated “master plan” that basically is not business friendly.

      The BOS screwed themselves when they allowed all the development of housing. Berryville/Clarke County is becoming more and more a bedroom community because of their policies.

      Dump the whole lot of them. And trust nobody that they support.

      • Bill Thomas says:

        A little dramatic there Rightwinger? Only 2 choices? In 95% of your posts you’re moaning about something or there’s some conspiracy plan in everything that you don’t agree on. Maybe you’d be better off across the mountain where it’s so great?

        • Actually I’m following along with the drumbeat that our schools are SEVERLY behind with technology and are in DESPERATE need of additional funding that the BOS is unwilling to provide. Sounds like you’d rather be living in the dark ages where the only thing to come out of Clarke County is farmers and hairdressers.

          • Read the latest edition of Newsweek. The Midwest is the least effected by recission anne Agriculture is being predicted as one our ways out of it. Due to the fact that we export wheat and corn in huge quantities to China and India. They are unable to feed their citizens without us. The US is the largest exporter of agricultural products in the world. Nothing wrong with farmers!

          • Just sayin says:

            Nobody’s knockin’ farmers. RW is quoting [redacted] Pete Dunning, who delivered that quip about the educational product of CCPS many moons ago at a social gathering.

      • BECOMING a bedroom community? Where have you been?

        One could argue additional development could solve the problem. More tax revenues, the more people living here, the more business would follow. Get rid of the farms and plant houses. Can’t have it both ways.

        • I was trying to be nice.

          I wouldn’t get rid of the farms, but I would raise the taxes on the landowners who have more than 5 acres but no farm animals on them. There’s a HUGE difference between a working farm and an estate.

  2. I would bet most of the items on the above list could be found in a back room at the government center. (I’m joking)

    Where’s the lottery money? Box Tops money? Apples for the Students program? Fundraisers? Grants? Aside from these, we will continue to run into the same problems as always until we allow at least SOME alternative businesses to set up shop around the county.

    • Frank Edwards says:

      2 words for Director Baggett- “Cloud Computing”. Google it folks.

      This statement from Baggett is borderline ridiculous on justifying some of these costs:
      “Students today are attached to their mobile devices” Director Baggett told the School Board Monday night”. “Donated equipment that can be used to create a MS Word document doesn’t really engage them.”

      • Fly on the wall says:

        Here’s a whole sentence for you – We don’t have the servers, or the network capacity, to even begin to think about “cloud computing.” To run taht software, you have to have the newer machines and reuisite peripherals and infrastructure.

        Your assumption that he is ignorant of those things only make you look trite.

      • Jeremy Carter says:

        Frank:

        I get what you’re saying…but what do you want to DO with ‘Cloud Computing’?

        Are you talking about virtualizing everything? Do you want everything to simply be web based? Are you wanting all of the schools in the school system to ‘cloud’ back into one central location? There’s a lot of different aspects to ‘cloud computing’…….

        I think the thing that’s missing from all of these..is the backbone of the IT infastructure. I truly don’t know what the back end of CCPS looks like. I can imagine it..but I do not know. The bottom line is…if the infastructure is not already there…..the price tag goes up…way up.

        I’ll certainly say that just getting a new computer doesn’t necessarily equate to much, if you can’t DO anything with it. There again, what is the infastructure like at CCPS? What kind of switches do they have? Are they up to date to support a big infastructure? If not, a simple powered switch can run a cool 5-8k easily. Couple that with what you actually ‘need’ to create the infastructure, and the bill then gets significantly larger.

        I think that this problem has really gone a long time without being adequately addressed. Now, when it comes to building something shiny and pretty…..they don’t have enough money to get the technology piece while it’s being built…and that’s really sad this day in age. Was this stuff not built into the construction budget? Or ever thought about?

        I honestly don’t know..maybe someone can answer this?

        • Frank Edwards says:

          Jeremy-
          The point is Cloud Computing is a viable option despite what “Fly on the Wall” states. I haven’t read the 2010-2015 Technology plan- but if it doesn’t mention or take into consideration Cloud Computing it’s a disservice to the Clarke County taxpayers. At the very least, cost benefit analysis of cloud computing versus traditional options should be presented to the school board to make an educated decision. Trust me- Cloud Computing is being done all over the country by school systems in worse shape than Clarke County. Maybe “Fly on the Wall” could quit wasting taxpayer dollars while posting on this site during the school day and get on this analysis?

          • Fly on the wall says:

            Be careful when you assume about someone…

            I don’t work for the schools in any capacity. I’ve volunteered in a few ways, and have talked to some folks who work for the division. Unlike you, I actually read the report. So, save your snarkiness.

    • Fly on the wall says:

      Box Tops money? You think enough of those come in to get sufficient quantities of anything?

      Fundraisers? There are already a host of fundraisers (by the PTO, the Band Boosters, the band classes, athletic boosters, DECA, FFA, choirs, you name it), but the parents can only cough up but so much. Likewise with the CCEF’s grants; there have been several tech grants awarded, but – again – you’re not talkin a high number.

      There might be other grants, but it takes manpower hours and resources to research them, determine if CCPS qualifies, complete the application(s), provide the requisite supporting documents, and make sure that the grant guideliens are followed. In a county where the heads of school and municipal departments can’t get timely financial data from the current software in place, that doesn’t make one confident of getting additional reports and such done.

      The simple fact is that a sea change has to happen, and CC needs to begin to make the investments it needs ot maintain quality programs and technology levels.

  3. A Point of Clarification, in view of the apparent confusion concerning school Technology:

    The detailed technology list above is a preliminary list of the items we will be purchasing exclusively for the new high school. It is indeed part of the construction budget (under the term FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment) and we are currently working on refining it to ensure that it is fully adapted to our new high school’s needs.

    The Technology Plan that was also presented at our last meeting, is a completely separate tool, part of a long-term five year plan required by the VDOE for ALL of our schools.

    Our division’s Technology has in the past been somewhat neglected, and we are currently working on bringing it fully up-to-date. Given the economy, this is a struggle, however with appropriate capital budget planning, and some creative thinking, we believe that we will be successful in implementing an efficient and highly functional technology network throughout our entire school division in the very near future.

    Robina

    • Robina,

      What happened to the “donation” from the Clarke County Education Foundation that was promised to go towards the technology department for the school system a few years ago? Did they ever make good on their so called donation or was that a lot of empty promises? I have tried to contact the CCEF and ask them but no one has responded. Can someone answer this question? IF they indeed made the donation, it would be great to see what it went towards. If they didn’t, time to make good on their promise to the school system.

      • Frank –

        There was effectively a promise by the CCEF of a $500,000 donation for the new high school made four or five years ago. The question has been asked to their new board, and we are pending a reply.

        • It’s about time the CCEF comes up with a reply. I hope that the CDN publishes the findings-response. The community deserves an answer.

          • As long as the money goes towards the schools’ technologoy infrastructure and not the Town. The Town has this thing about demanding that the schools pay for neglected infrastructure changes out of school funds.

          • (Sound of crickets chirping)

            Well, CCEF? We know you’re out there reading this.

          • Still no answer to this…..Typical of the croonies that are running that so called non profit organization. C’mon Kim Stutzman…..the public deserves to know when your organization is going to made good on their promise to donate money to the technology department! For someone who is all about CCPS, your organization sure knows how to deliver empty promises!

  4. livein22611 says:

    How many people with CCEF are on salary?

  5. Tyler Schefter says:

    Am I the only one who thinks 156 cameras is a little over kill? I went to school with no cameras and I am still alive.

    Not to mention the pricing on some of this stuff! Only a fool (or the federal Gov’t) would pay 1500 dollars for a interior fixed camera.