Efficient information technology management the focus of BOLD’s November sessionScott Rothschild
The second session for KASB’s Business Operations Leadership Development (BOLD) Class was held Nov. 13 and 14 in Goddard. The first day focused on food service and the second day on technology.
Goddard USD 265 district leaders joined the group to discuss the district’s decision to partner with K12itc, a technology management company based in Kansas City.
Staff turnover and outdated equipment were among the reasons the growing suburban district west of Wichita knew it was time to change its approach to technology management, including the district’s phone system, classroom technology and data security.
Goddard USD 265 operates 12 buildings with an enrollment of over 5,800 students. Finding the best way to manage a district’s technology program was a time consuming and difficult process. The final decision was a significant departure from the more traditional way of managing a school’s technology and required everyone to change past practices.
Dr. Justin Henry, superintendent of schools, said they prioritized keeping the entire process transparent and all stakeholders informed and involved.
“We took 18 months from our first discussion to board approval,” he said. “Our message, particularly to our existing technology staff, was that we just need to do technology a different way. We assured them no one was losing their job.”
K12itc offers several options to KASB members looking for assistance with technology. K12itc’s Albert system bundles every aspect of a school’s information technology into one package, delivered for a predictable monthly fee. While K12itc has responsibility for equipment, infrastructure, connectivity and maintenance, the district’s staff is an integral part of the entire system.
A district technology committee, comprised of a cross section of teachers, administrators, other staff and three board of education members, was given the task of developing recommendations to present to the board of education for improving the district’s approach to technology.
Once the concept of moving from an in-house program to contracting for technology management was agreed upon, the district used an RFP process to select its technology partner. In the end, K12itc’s expertise and business model was the best fit for Goddard.
“K12itc deals with just the educational world which set them apart from competitors,” said Doug Maxwell, Goddard’s finance director. “They could give us a better understanding of exactly what they were delivering – from hardware to service.”
The decision to partner with K12itc was not only about money. Jess Herbig, Goddard’s executive director of instructional support, said K12itc’s experience and expertise gives them the support they need to do technology differently.
“We can stop thinking ‘we can’t do this,’ and instead look to the future and how we can make technology work for our students and staff,” he said.
This year’s BOLD Class includes 17 school leaders from across Kansas who will meet in five two-day from October through June 2019 to expand knowledge on building and facilities master planning, technology planning, finance strategies, procurement processes, school security, risk management and human resources.
During its November session, the class also began work on a facility improvement and expansion case study. Through the next several class sessions they will work in four teams to determine how best to address the needs of their assigned district.
Rick Nobles, president of Patron Insight, Inc. also joined the group in Goddard for a presentation on using surveys and community input to help shape a district’s strategic plan and bond campaign.
Patron Insight is based in Stillwell, Kansas and is KASB’s preferred provider for market research and planning. The company provides support for KASB members who need re-election research, campaign planning and assistance with citizen advisory initiatives.
Nobles said community attitude and perception research should take place 12 to 18 months before any plans are made for a bond election.
“Perception is reality,” he said. “It is essential to know what a true cross section of your patrons is thinking before you begin to develop a facility improvement plan.”
Once the plans are developed, Nobles recommends a pre-election survey six to eight months before the election.
Patron Insight can then use the results to help the district structure winning ballot proposals, identify how best to communicate with the district’s patrons and identify biases that exist in the district’s voters that could impact the outcome of any election.
BOLD’s next class session will be Feb. 7 and 8 in Topeka.