Technology plans coming together [Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA)]
(Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Technology continues to improve in Dubuque's public schools, even without an IT director.
The Dubuque Community School District has been without a director of technology since Ron Armbruster resigned from the position, citing personal reasons, effective June 28.
Despite the lack of a director, the IT Department has pulled together to begin implementation of the district's four-year, multi- million dollar technology plan unveiled in April.
"Everybody's come together as a team," said Jaime Habel, data center lead technician with the district.
The plan invests $3.5 million per year for four years, with a
$2.5 million ongoing commitment to technology. It will be funded with the one-cent sales tax.
"Everyone's supported it so much so far," said Brad Tigges, a network support technician with the district.
Thirteen employees in the IT Department, not including technology coaches in schools, started work on four projects this past summer to update technology.
"It's nice to see things happening and getting technology in the hands of the students," Habel said.
District wireless access points were doubled, and the district created digital literacy labs so eighth-graders can learn to use software programs and communicate in the digital world. Habel said the labs came together with the help of many departments.
So far, 33 of 59 other computer labs scheduled to be updated or created this school year have been completed. There are also 1,200 tablets that will be distributed to teachers this year.
Although execution was the focus, IT Department staff did recommend a switch from virtual desktops to Lenovo Tiny devices.
"I am very happy with where we were able to go in the three months of summer. Obviously, we're just one or two steps into a long journey," said Superintendent Stan Rheingans.
The next step is to hire a director of technology.
Armbruster's resignation, less than a year after he started in July 2012, was the latest in a series of changes. Jim Puls resigned from the position in September 2011, and the district hired an interim director of technology, David Cagigal, in February 2012.
Rheingans said it's important to hire the right person who can help evolve the district's technology plan.
"We know we've got a strong team here," he said. "We don't feel a need to rush to hire an IT director."
Thirty people from around the country applied for the position that was advertised in mid-July. Six candidates are scheduled for interviews this week.
Rheingans said if the right person is found, a hiring recommendation will be taken to the school board on Sept. 16. However, the district will continue its search if they don't find the right person.
Habel agreed it's better to take the time to get the right person.
"Things are coming together (and) going in a very positive direction," he said.
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