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Jones County Technology Plan Narrative By Bryan Boone Kevin Kerr Richard Morris

Introduction:

The Three-Year Technology Plan for the Jones County School System of Gray, GA was submitted to MSC ETTC and the State DOE for approval on August 25, 2008. The plan is for July1, 2009, through June 30, 2012. The plan is due to be updated in the coming months. Since that plan was submitted, approved, and its implementation begun, there have been many changes within the school system. The changes that have had the most potential for impacting the technology plan are those, which have occurred on a system-wide administrative level, through reorganization, those that result from changes in technology resources, and those that have resulted from an economic downturn since the plans inception.

Demographics:

Jones County has a population of roughly 28,000 and is a central Georgia rural community. According to Jones Countys FTE count for the 2008-2009 school year, there were 5,460 students enrolled in the countys school system. The Jones County School system is comprised of ten school campuses; six are elementary schools, two are middle schools, and the single high schools is split between a ninth grade campus and a 10-12 grade campus. Of the total number of students 70% were white, 28% black, 1% Hispanic, and 2% multiracial. Those statistics varied by no more than one percentage point per year between the 2006 -2007 school tear and the 2008-2009 school year. Special needs student made up 11% of the countys school population, and students listed as English language learners made up less than 1 % of the population. Students qualifying for free or reduced lunches made up 40% of the systems student population. Jones County School Systems Three-Year Technology Plan is designed with all of those students at its core.

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This technology plan has some notable strengths as well as some weaknesses that need to be addressed. The strengths include a strong mission/vision statement that was clearly stated to maximize academic performance for all students and well established goals lined out for instruction followed by benchmarks and strategies for each goal. Also, the staff development strategies are more comprehensive than originally thought. In the technology plan table, the staff development is given specific details as to who, what, and when it will be implemented. Major areas of deficiency included objectives, budget resources, and technical support; often deficits in one area resulted in insufficiencies in others, as became obvious when the plan was viewed holistically.

The main changes that needed the most focus were objectives, budget resources, and technical support. A. Objectives:

While most goals are realistic, all too often objectives are listed as 100%. The systems technological maturity as exhibited by students, teachers, and administration makes many of the 100% objectives unrealistic and unattainable. Some objectives feature well-planned, graduated timeframes, but others rely too heavily on the vague evaluation method of stakeholder surveys. Stakeholder surveys may be viable, but are overused in this plan. Too often objectives target specific software or technology. This approach ignores the rapid nature of technology obsolescence.

B. Budget Resources

The lack of budget information in some areas of the plan was described as Local Funds with no mention as to how much of the local funds would be needed. It was very unclear how much money would be distributed to certain projects or goals that needed to be achieved. Furthermore, there were vague timelines surrounded the funding. There was no mention as to when a project would be completed or how often the money would need to be replenished. To fix

this problem, there should be a section in the Technology plan that has a line-item budget explaining the projects, cost of each project, and the projected time of completion for projects. If the project is on-going it needs to be stated so local funds can be accounted for each year. Having these items stated in the Technology plan will give all stake holders a clear understanding of where local funds are being distributed. Also, these changes will make it clear which projects are effective and need to continue versus projects that need to be eliminated or revised. The changes to the budget items will be implemented in the table portion of the Technology Plan listed under Funding source and amount.

C. Technical Support

The technology plan explains that there are five Technology Specialists at the district level that are assigned to schools and maintain all computers at their respective sites. This was found on page 8 of the plan and it is the only place that explains what tech support each school obtains. The problem is that it is not very detailed. There should be details explaining when the specialists work on the computers each week, how often they are keeping computers current with relevant technology, and how they can support the faculty and staff at their respective sites when problems arise. There needs to be a section that explains procedures behind getting support when it is needed due to computer malfunction or any other technical issues. In summary, the changes being made to the Technology plan should create a better understanding of how technology will be implemented in Jones County. The objectives of the plan were designed to accommodate the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) and did not take into account the newly adopted, and soon-to-be implemented Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS). Further, those objectives did not adequately reflect the growing trends of increasing parental and community involvement and increasing staff development that were engendered by the No Child Left Behind Act or the impact new state-wide anti-bullying legislation. In addition, the authors did not fully take into account the rapidity of innovation and growth in the availability of technologies that continue to broaden choices of software, including student information software, and to increase options for staff development through distance learning options. As professional development availability is increased, so is the level of technological competence among educators.

The other pressing issue with this technology plan involved the lack of detail explaining when and where technology staff work and the procedures to receive support. By providing details of the tech staffs schedule, each school can make arrangements for staff development and updates to computers without interfering with the teaching schedule. By placing a section that explains tech support procedures in the plan, teachers and staff will be able to cut down on the number of unnecessary referrals sent to the tech staff. This process will cut down on the amount of time the five tech specialists have to run the systems and install updates to computers. The implementation of these changes to the technology plan will increase efficiency of technology staff, allow for extra budget resources, and provide clear objectives that will create transparency for stake holders of the county. Finally, the plans authors could not have foreseen the reclassification of the countys sole high school to that of a Title I school, which has afforded the system an opportunity and vehicle whereby more technology could be purchased at that level. The changes to clarity of the budget resources will help board members and staff members make cuts and changes to areas that need attention. For instance, if there are some programs that are not being used anymore because they are obsolete, the board members can see how much money that is taking and use it in a project that needs more money. Clarifying these budget monies will also alleviate budget short falls and concerns that the county is experiencing at the moment due to the economy.