As you may recall, last October the Board of Aldermen approved $1.5 million over five years to upgrade technology across the entire city—schools, City Hall, police, fire, and DPW.
Our school technology plan is on schedule: Upgrades have been completed in all eight of Melrose’s public schools. We will installed 700 desktop computers and 300 wireless access points, and deployed 1,100 Chromebooks—all with our existing staff. We have also upgraded the technology infrastructure district-wide. We now have eight 21st century ready schools.
Because we were able to do these installations with existing staff, we saved $225,000 over the cost of using outside workers. This new technology is already being used in all our schools. We have had ongoing staff training for the past several years so the learning curve for the new equipment and software was manageable with existing staff.
This new equipment and the training that goes with it are the culmination of a master plan that was laid out several years go by our Information Technology department and school administration. Over the last three years we have had several pilot programs to select the right hardware and the best combination of software packages, as well as to help school staff learn how to use it effectively.
There have been some questions about the technology director position that was included in the override proposal. Because the override did not pass, that position is not currently in the school budget. The technology director position that was included in the override proposal is an instructional technology position. The Instructional Technology Director does not focus on maintenance of the equipment but rather on how to use technology to enhance instruction and student outcomes. This would have been a valuable enhancement to the district, but the plan from Day One was for this program to be successful with or without the position. This is possible because our Chief Information Officer, Jorge Pazos, handles the day-to-day oversight and management of technology. The CIO and the Curriculum Director will continue to oversee instructional technology, as they have been doing; the instructional technology director would have streamlined things by centralizing these functions in a single office.