Thursday, November 23, 2006
Steamboat Springs The technology used in the Steamboat Springs School District is outdated and in need of a makeover, according to the official in charge of the school system's computer hardware and software.
District technology director Tim Miles has been working on a plan to update district technology with a Citrix system used by other school districts and in the corporate world.
The Citrix system involves a main server that would bring most districts computer under the same operating system. The desktops of computers at Steamboat Springs High School would look the same as the desktops at Strawberry Park Elementary School, for example.
Currently, the district's four schools and administration office operate as five separate buildings with different desktops and operating systems.
"The real advantage is I'm not in a desktop replacement merry-go-round," Miles said about the Citrix system.
The district is aided in its efforts to stay up to date with technology by the Education Fund Board, and, more specifically, the Fund Board's Technology Commission. That commission is dedicated to identifying technology needs for the school system and bringing those funding requests to the Fund Board, which allocates $2 million annually from a half-cent city sales tax for education. Any approved funding request must be given final approval by the Steamboat Springs School Board before the money can be spent.
Miles has appeared before the School Board and the Technology Commission to present his suggestions and what they would cost, if implemented.
Former Technology Commission chairman Jerry Kozatch said commission members were impressed with Miles' plan at the Nov. 15 meeting. Kozatch said "there was no logical reason" not go move forward with the implementation of the Citrix system.
"They were all over it," Kozatch said about the Technology Commission. "The downside is so small."
Kozatch recently was appointed to the School Board, and Peter Remy temporarily replaced him as chairman of the Technology Commission.
Kozatch highlighted several aspects of the Citrix system, including how it could save time and energy by allowing district employees and students to work on computers throughout the district instead of computers only at their school.
There also is talk of extending licenses to homes and libraries so students and teachers could work on projects from outside the school building, Miles said.
"Basically it's a national database, so you can have access to an offsite database for all we are doing," Kozatch said. "Every school and every student is connected."
A recent technology audit of the school district noted that its schools were using Macintoshes and PCs, which was forcing the district to have "two flavors of software and two flavors of training internally," Miles said.
"The two types don't integrate to have a single point of management," he added.
The audit recommended Steamboat move to a single platform. District officials opted to go with PCs because they are cheaper to maintain and they are better for management programs, Miles said.
The estimated cost to implement Citrix is between $290,000 and $350,000 for installation, licensing purchase and training. An additional $150,000 likely would be needed to improve the network.
The initial costs are preliminary, and the implementation of the Citrix system is dependent on the Technology Commission's recommendation to the Fund Board, the Fund Board's recommendation to the School Board, and the School Board's potential approval of the gift.