As I began to think about how I would respond to the prompt, I was reminded of my interview with the Director of Technology at my school district. One of the things we discussed was his goals for the technology program and it's sustainability. The first thing he said that you need to do is create the infrastructure. Then you need to test it. The testing takes about a year to do, because you need to push the network to its maximum capacity before you roll out devices to the students. Once you are confident that the network can handle the load, you start to work with teachers on changing their pedagogical approach to daily activities (E. Kwok, personal communication, June 15, 2015). Here is where you have to pay attention to the collective bargaining agreement. One aspect of the collective bargaining agreement is Mandatory Consulting on matters pertaining to Educational Objectives and selection of textbooks (Kemer & Sansom, 2013). I wonder if this pertains to the transition from print textbooks to digital ones?
Another aspect of collective bargaining that can have an effect on the success and sustainability of a program is the mandatory negotiation of hours (Kemer & Sansom, 2013). In order to transition to a one to one program teachers need to be trained on a new pedagogy, as well as some basic troubleshooting of the machines. This will take time and dedication from the teachers. If they are to be required to put in extra time, it needs to be included in the collective bargaining agreement. There are a myriad of professional development options, my school district has a learn on your own policy. Teachers are given a list of options to choose from at the beginning of the year and they pick what they want. This is reflected within the collective bargaining agreement.
In my second interview we discussed the necessity of a graduated professional development geared towards a unified front (not the best word, but it works) for utilizing technology within the classrooms (S. Ahl, personal communication, June 19, 2015). What we, as technology leaders, need to be sure of, is that all teachers have access to quality professional development. From the High Fliers, to those who would rather get stuck in the mud than embrace technology, our students need teachers to have at least a basic understanding of how to create learning environments that are driven by curriculum and powered by technology (M Webb, personal communication, June 16, 2014).
E. Kwok, personal communication, June 15, 2015.
Kemer, F. & Sansom, P. (2013). California School Law: Third Edition. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
M. Webb, personal communication, June 16, 2014.
S. Ahl, personal communication, June 19, 2015.
Initially I couldn't understand the question of how systems such as child nutrtition can support an online environment. Shouldn't it be the other way arround? By creating a fully integrated infrastructure technology can help make the daily functions of various systems more efficient and able to service students better. For example, districts can significantly reduce their costs, and make bus routes quicker, and more efficient by utilizing computer programs that will create an ideal pick up schedule and route. (Townley & Schmeider-Ramirez 2915, 134). Also through the use of GPS locator devises, the rout audit can be done in a fraction of the time it would take without technology, and with less long term costs. Transportation is one arena in which school systems need to improve their efficiency. I know that I tend to draw on my former school district in North Carolina for a lot of data, but I got to know many officials at the district office. In one conversation when they were preparing for a legal brief, I asked what bussing costs. The CFO told me that it was approximately $350,000 per week for a district of 58,000 students (D. Karpinski, Personal Communication, August 2013). Knowing that really made me ponder the purpose ofbussing, and to see if there was a way technology could help alleviate some of the bussing costs, perhaps with more virtual field trips,skypeing into workshops for students, etc.
This past school year I taught in a Title 1 school. I have never taught in a Title 1 before. I was honestly shocked at the level of poverty, some of my students took food home with them over the weekend because that's all they could get. Growing up this way seemed to give many students a drive to succeed. For example one of my students received a full ride scholarship to USC, another a full ride to the University of Wisconsin. As a Title 1 school students get free breakfast as well as free lunches. The breakfast is served in the classrooms, with an extra 10 minutes of homeroom built into each morning (Bell Schedule, 2015). Again, I believe that technology can help serve students nutrition programs in two overt ways, 1 it can make the National School Lunch Program and the California's School Lunch Program run more effieiently and make sure that no students fall through the cracks (Townley & Schmeider-Ramirez 2015, 152-153.). Another way technology can support the program is by helping students track their daily caloric intake. According to the text we have an obesity problem with our students, anecdotally I belive it is due to poor nutritional choices among the youth (Townley & Schmeider-Ramirez 2015, 150-151.) Child nutrition is where we begin to see how a system can support the technology program. Healthy students who have a nutritious diet perform better in all areas of school, including in their use of technology for academic purposes (Townley & Schmeider-Ramirez 2015, 151.)
As a former Instructional Technology Facilitator, I loved my maintenance staff. In fact, the technology department was under the same umbrella as the Maintenance department. Maintenance made sure that our Wifi network functioned properly, and that our servers wern't destroyed by lightening, as we were struck twice in my last year there. Out of the support services we read this week, I believe that theMainenance and Operations services, while separate services have a relationship which causes them to be confused with each other (Townley & Schmeider-Ramirez, 2015).
Just today I had a meeting with a principal in my new school district (I am moving to a district that is closer to my home) and we discussed a bond they are putting together to help support some improvements in the district including technology. The district is 40% out of district transfer students. One problem they are encountering is residents wondering why they should pay for a bond that will support a large portion of students that won't be paying for it. If it were me, I would remind those parents of the symbiotic relationship between schools and home values. While, yes, students will be benefitting from the bond measure, so would the community as a whole (Townley & Schmeider-Ramirez, 2015).
Like the home values and bond measures for the schools form a symbiotic relationship; so do support departments, including technology. Education Technology can't exist without the operations keeping the district functioning, or maintenance making sure the buildings are clean and have adequate power. I think it is safe to say that all systems (including online learning environments) are merely individual legs supporting a well rounded district.
Bell Schedule. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2015, from https://32ndstreet-uscmagnet.schoolloop.com/
D. Karpinski, Personal Communication, August 2013
Townley, A.J. & Schmeider-Ramirez J.H. (2015). Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company
While pondering the role of the CBO I couldn't help but think about an episode of The West Wing. In one episode the character Sam Seaborn is being interviewed about his process for writing the State of the Union. He said that before the President can bring an idea to the speech they first have to run it by the Office of Management and Budget. The interviewer asked why that is, and Sam says, "When the President announces a new program, the first thing people are going to ask is, How will we pay for it?" (Sorkin, 2001).
The CBO (Chief Business Officer) of a school district is a role that is extremely important, yet rather vague in both title and specific role. The CBO can be called anything, such as a Chief Financial Officer to a Director of Financial Services. The person who is performing those duties also varies from district to district. There can be one dedicated individual acting as the CBO, or there can be an individual such as a superintendent who, among all other duties, performs the duties of the CBO. In order to provide more consistency and direction in 2001, the Association of School Business Officials International adopted a set of professional standards that gave guidance and direction to the position of CBO. (Townley and Schmieder, 2015).
While I was teaching in North Carolina our school district was lauded by the Governor for being a model of how districts in the state should implement a technology program. We were completely one to one from all grades 6-12. Teachers had weekly professional development and 100% support from site based Instructional Technology Specialists. She came to one of our staff meetings and opened the floor up to questions. I asked her how she came up with the technology plan. What she said parallelled what Sam Seaborn told the interviewer. She said that the first thing to do is meet with the Chief FInancial Officer to come up with a budgetary plan for paying for the program. Then once the board approves that plan, meet with the head of Instructional Technology to craft a plan that will fit withing the auspices of the budgetary framework (Ellis, 2014).
This exchange that I had with Dr. Ellis demonstrates how the CBO can be a resource to a technology leader. Everything has to be paid for. As we have been discussing in our first two postings, everything begins and ends with the budget. We can have the best technology plan in the world, but if it can't be funded, then we are dead on arrival. Any technology plan should be included in the basic educational plan for the district, which is the main foci for the budget, and included as a goal contained in the LCAP. (Townley and Schmieder, 2015).
Another way the CBO can assist the technology program is to determine where the funds need to come from. My current school district is under FBI and Grand Jury investigation, and take my word for it, you do not want to work in a district that is under any sort of investigation. Having the CBO help cross the T's and dot the I's can ensure that the money comes from the correct fund and is spent the way it is supposed to be through the office of expenditure. (Townley and Schmieder, 2015).
I havn't had the chance to get to know anyone in my current school districts Financial Office, I did have a good working relationship with the CFO in my previous district. I would email him a request, and he would let me know what the budget dictated and then worked with me in preparing a future plan, or how to categorize the funds. The CBO can be a technology leaders best friend and a good partner in formulating long term strategic plans for your school, and the district as a whole.
Ellis, Dr. Mary. Personal Communication, April 2014).
Sorkin, A (writer), and Misiano, S (diretor). (7 February 2001). Bartlett's Third State of the Union (Television Series Episode). In John Wells Productions (producer), The West Wing. Burbank, CA: Warner Brothers.
Townley, A & Schmieder-Ramirez, J. (2015). School Finance: A California Perspective (10th ed.). Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.