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Tech report

IOWA CITY– The Iowa City Community School District’s (ICCSD) information services department got back their report card, called an information technology simplification assessment (ITSA), from Dell, the computer company based in Texas.
Blake Chism, a simplification practice executive for Dell, presented the report, which cost the district $41,000. Physical Plant and Equipment levy (PPEL) funds paid for the cost of the district’s study.
Chism is the former Director of Information Services at the Orange Unified School District in California, the job now held by David Dude for ICCSD.
Dude introduced Chism at the Jan. 17 meeting, and said afterward that with the ITSA, the district “will be better poised to support whatever (technology) comes next.”
The report includes interviews with staff, internal surveys and a look at financials.
Chism said the cost of hardware and software were important, but needed to be included with the cost of people doing the work.
The ITSA found that ICCSD is not spending enough for full-time employees in the technology department, far below the industry average, and recommends spending more on desktop support and the help desk. Being under-resourced means that the tech department is doing more with less, but the burden has caused an unfavorable perception of information services.
The Dell ITSA recommends the district first create a comprehensive technology strategic plan and also had over a dozen other operations initiatives for future implementation to “reduce complexity and become more consistent, efficient and effective.”
Dude said the district’s immediate plans are to address infrastructure challenges (such as bandwidth, Wi-Fi and internal network connections) and improving basic classroom technology.
He said in the future the school system may need to eventually support technology programs like anytime-anywhere learning, electronic textbooks, online assessments and/or Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), for hand-held devices and smart phones.
The assessment by Dell provides a unit cost estimate for info service areas and compares these to industry data.
The Dell report can be read in the board meeting agenda enclosures from the Jan. 17 meeting.
Dude’s office oversees technology infrastructure and data managers, library and media services, building-level library staff, tech support and audio-visual needs for the schools.
Other district news
Phil Hansen, a vice president of policy and development for Synesi Associates, shared some details of the district’s Synesi report, an operations review of ICCSD business practices. Hansen is one of five authors of the district review.
The report was welcomed by community member Julie van Dyke, who, after Hansen’s presentation, told the board, “The community has been saying everything in that report for years.”
She also claimed that, “Everything they’re suggesting is going to pay for itself.” Later adding, “there is no structure, there are no procedures. We’ve all been begging for this.”
Later, Hansen told van Dyke that the report should be viewed as an opportunity to move forward in the district, a sentiment also voiced by board member Jeff McGuiness at the meeting.
The Synesi operations review contains comments from 938 people in a survey. Synesi team members spent three days in mid-October in the central office and one day visiting five schools to make on-site observations.
The full 117-page report can be read in the board meeting agenda enclosures from the Jan. 17 meeting.
At the Jan. 17 meeting, Jane McAllister of Ahlers Law Firm in Des Moines, spoke via Skype with the board to discuss the disposition of the district’s property and Roosevelt Elementary school building.
ICCSD is considering use of a competitive bid process for the sale of the school.
McAllister walked the board through a draft of the real estate offer that would bar the use of the property by future owners for multi-unit housing, including apartments and condominiums, commercial or retail space, and would keep the ravine area along Greenwood Drive intact.
The board set Feb. 7 as the next board meeting, for a public hearing on the City High Performing Arts project, with bidding to open Feb. 23.
MidWestOne Bank presented a check for $28,813.36 to the ICCSD Foundation that came from proceeds of the Run for the Schools. Race directors Joe and Jean Dwyer were on hand to present an over-sized check to the school foundation.