By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer
MADISON COUNTY —
Through cost-cutting and efficiency measures, the Madison County School District’s technology team has found ways to save more than $800,000 in technology-related costs.
New technology director Bob Moore included those figures in his first annual report to the school board Thursday night.
Moore was hired in February to fill a position that had been vacant for five years. But in January, the motion to amend the position’s salary schedule and hire a technology director was a close 3-2. Board members John Lackey and Mary Renfro said they were opposed to adding a high-level position to an administration that critics have described as “top-heavy.”
However, during Thursday’s meeting, Moore’s report revealed that he and his team have generated enough savings to far exceed the cost of his salary.
Moore said his team is focused on two things: supporting student achievement and meeting the needs of both students and staff.
He frequently meets with instructional leaders to ensure that technological tools meet the needs of instructional plans, Moore said.
“I’m a firm believer that the instructional plan comes first and that technology is just the tool that helps us meet that plan,” he said. “It cannot work the other way around. We cannot purchase technology and then expect our teachers to find a way to teach with it.”
An annual survey revealed that teachers “were not happy with the usability of technology in our schools,” Moore said, and the tech team is finding ways to address that.
A teacher from Silver Creek Elementary was at the dentist one day and spoke with someone who put Moore in contact with the Commonwealth Office of Technology.
“And through that conversation at the dentist’s office, this year alone, we will be able to receive over $500,000 worth of computer equipment at no cost to the district,” he said.
The tech team also looked at ways to be more efficient with staff, but also with how money is spent. Through cross-training at little to no cost, the tech team has been able to decrease the district’s dependency on vendors by $100,000, Moore said. The extra training allows teachers and tech staff in each school to perform those tasks. This also cuts back on the time it takes to resolve a technology issue, he said, with resolutions often made in less than a day.
Technology integration specialist Tina Barrett repaired a student response system that would have cost $100,000 to replace, he continued.
At the suggestion of some Waco Elementary students, the tech team has installed a power management system that automatically shuts computers down every night. This will save about $100,000 a year in energy costs, Moore said.
The tech team also is looking at consolidating printers and encouraging the use of copiers.
“It costs twice as much to print to a printer than it does to a copier,” Moore said.
The technology director said he was primarily working on a long-term technology replacement plan for equipment.
If the district was to purchase a lot of equipment at one time with no replacement plan, it could “lead to a crisis seven years later, when we have to come by a large sum of money to replace those,” he said.
Moore said his goal is to a have “purposeful” replacement plan that minimizes the impact on students and teachers.
Child nutrition coordinator position discussed
During the “new business” portion of the meeting, board members discussed creating a new position for a child nutrition coordinator.
The coordinator would earn around $29,000 a year and would focus on increasing participation in food service; aligning menus to new federal nutrition standards to increase reimbursement per meal; and would be “out in the schools” working with cafeteria staff, said Superintendent Elmer Thomas.
Aligning school menus could bring in an additional $85,000 in federal reimbursement, he said. The goal for this position is to generate enough savings so that it would pay for itself.
The nutrition coordinator would find ways to make healthier options “more attractive” to students in order to increase participation, he said.
“Healthier-eating students are smarter students,” Thomas said. “We want them to eat and have enough caloric intake to make it through the day and into the afternoon -- we have a lot of kids who participate in after-school activities.”
If the nutrition coordinator did not produce the results anticipated, the position could be reviewed in the future and possibly eliminated, he said.
The board will have further discussion on this position and other position at the Oct. 24 scheduled work session, 6 p.m., at Central Office (550 South Keeneland Drive).
2013 Unbridled Learning results
Chief Academic Officer David Gilliam presented the second-year results of the state’s new assessment and accountability system Unbridled Learning.
The district increased its score to achieve “proficient” status and ranks in the 77th percentile statewide.
The Richmond Register published three articles about the scores when they were released in late September. Visit www.richmondregister.com and type “Unbridled Learning” in the green search bar.
The district also has links to a PowerPoint presentation explaining the results on its website at www.madison.kyschools.us. Click on “District Information” and “Unbridled Learning Assessment Results.”
Crystal Wylie can be reached at email@example.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.