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Tech commission proposes overhaul

Plans to cost $1.37M; address district's software, hardware needs

— The Technology Commission is proposing a significant software and network upgrade in the Steamboat Springs School District that will cost a substantial amount of money.

During Wednesday’s budget presentation for the 2007-08 school year, district technology director Tim Miles asked the Education Fund Board to support his $1.37 million technology plan for the district.

It is nearly $500,000 more than the Technology Commission asked for last year.



“I’m going to present to you large numbers,” Miles said before Wednesday’s presentation. “I came from a very poor school district, so I’m used to making money stretch. That’s what I want to do here.”

The Technology Commission is one of three branches of the Fund Board. The other two branches are the Capital and Educational Excellence commissions. The Fund Board oversees spending of the city’s half-cent sales tax for education.



Every winter, the commissions come before the Fund Board for an initial reading of the funding requests for the next school year, giving Fund Board members a chance to ask questions and address concerns they may have about the requests before a final reading.

The Fund Board then allocates a specific amount of money to each commission to spend on needs, but the Fund Board ultimately decides how the money will be spent. The Steamboat Springs School Board then votes whether to accept Fund Board gifts.

Technology is an ever-growing element of school curriculum across the country based on national and state standards for students relative to technology literacy.

On Wednesday, Miles proposed the Fund Board spend $225,500 to upgrade software such as purchasing new Microsoft leases, upgrading elementary school software and renewing licenses for other software.

“Technology changes faster than the budget allows, faster than money is allocated,” Miles said. “Our core software is four versions old. The OS software is three versions old. We are still dealing with problems Microsoft fixed seven years ago.”

Miles proposed spending $120,000 to consolidate the district’s network. Currently, the district network has five domains, meaning a district employee working between buildings needs a separate account for each building. A single domain would ease management, improve security and allow for more mobility.

The most talked about sum arguably is the $425,000 to implement the Citrix system. The system lengthens desktop life, standardizes deployment of applications and enables students and staff to work out of the classroom, Miles said.

“If we are successful here, we will be on the map nationwide with what we are able to do with this system,” he said.

Miles has been talking about the Citrix system for months so many Fund Board members were familiar with his proposal.

“The obvious question is ‘can this be phased in?'” Fund Board member Peter Remy asked.

Miles shook his head.

“I apologize for that, but to be successful it cannot be phased in,” he said.

The proposed changes would create a demand for training, which is why Miles proposed spending $50,000 on training, in addition to the $390,000 to fund five staff members’ salaries and benefits.

Fund Board member Michael Loomis asked Miles for a breakout of staff salaries before the second reading.

Fund Board member Tom Ptach asked it if was possible for the district to consider paying the salaries of technology staff much like the district did for teachers and support staff needed to implement programs funded by Educational Excellence.

“I’ve talked about getting to a point where the Fund Board pays extras,” Ptach said. “Maybe in 1992, a tech director or tech person was extra to have. I can’t imagine it is in 2007. I would like to get the ongoing tech staff out of the Fund Board and into the district (budget).”

Miles reminded Fund Board members that he expects the district to save money in the long-term, but the next two years, if they approve his proposal, they should expect increased spending.

Fund Board accountant Paul Strong recommend Miles provide Fund Board members the cost saving analysis for the second reading in order to counter the large request.

– To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com


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