KCSD board considers review of technology plan

Discussion to continue Thursday

MILL HALL — The Keystone Central School District is looking into reviewing its technology department.

The school board has discussed bringing in an outside company to perform a technology audit to help improve their technology plan which will feed into the district’s overall strategic plan.

“I think the goal here is to get an assessment of what our current state is relative to what the ideal state would be for an educational environment. Also to examine what trends are or where we’re expecting things to go in five or 10 years and then use the information to help build that five year technology plan,” board president Boise “Bo” Miller said.

The board was presented with two proposals at last week’s work session, one from Questeq and another from Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO.)

Questeq is based out of Coraopolis, Pa. and has over 30 years of K-12 experience helping over 100,000 students and teachers to utilize the latest technology.

“They’ll come in, take a look, put all the recommendations together… and the idea is that they will do this at no charge,” Miller said.

However, the company will make recommendations that would potentially suggest the district pay for their services to complete them, he continued.

Harrisburg based PASBO would cost the district $10,000 for their services, but they will not suggest the district purchase services or equipment from their company.

“They provide business administrative consulting services to institutions and they do the tech assessments as well. This one is not free, however it is independent,” Miller said.

Both Miller and Superintendent Jacquelyn Martin feel the district should employ an outside entity to perform the study.

“Some sort of assessment is necessary. It’s very difficult for someone to do an internal self-assessment like that because they’ve become very much too close to what they’re working on,” Miller said. “So fresh eyes are always necessary. It’s not necessarily predicting the future because nobody can predict the future, but it is more about knowing what is currently out there and where the trends are going.”

“I think an unbiased approach to getting that information for that (technology plan) is really key,” Martin said. “Having somebody take a look under the hood is always a healthy thing to do for an organization.”

Board vice president Roger Elling asked for Miller’s take on the two companys given his technological background.

“I prefer the objectiveness of PASBO audit however the price tag for Questeq can’t really be ignored,” Miller answered. “I like the word free, but there’s nothing in life that’s free. Sometimes in life if you’re getting something for free you’re not the customer, you’re the product.”

“That’s my concern,” Elling said, adding that he feels that Questeq will attempt to offer multiple upgrades and changes to the district’s technology department. All of which they would offer their services for. It might end up being more than actually going through PASBO.”

“I would put my faith more in the product that PASBO is offering than the product that Questeq is offering,” Miller said.

Martin feels that it’s still worth looking into Questeq.

“With Questeq it is free and there is no obligation to spend a dollar with the group,” she said. “I think it’s worth us looking at the free audit first. I think not only Bo’s expertise in technology but also my expertise in instructional technology can inform the board of the validity of the assessment, and what we take away from that… what we decide to do, should be part of our long-term technology plan.”

“But you can’t determine what the plan is unless you have some type of information to base your plan on,” she continued.

Miller agreed that the board shouldn’t overlook the fact that Questeq would cost the district nothing.

Board member Deb Smith suggested the board consider using both companies if they decide to go with PASBO’s services first.

“If we do opt to go with PASBO we probably should do the Questeq as well, since it won’t cost us anything and perhaps we can pull information from both,” she said.

Miller said, “My concern there would be the amount of time our staff would be involved in preparing this information. This is going to require some serious time.”

The board will continue their discussion about the possibility of a technology audit during their voting session meeting this Thursday, Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in Central Mountain High School’s auditorium.