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School district revises its tech policy

The South Kitsap School District is bringing its technology into the 21st Century. But first, SKSD Superintendent Bev Cheney said, it needs to bring its teaching to the same level.

“Our primary function is teaching and learning,” Cheney said, “so we are first focusing on instruction, and then looking at how technology can be used to en-hance that.”

This new approach to integrating technology into the classroom represents a philosophical shift, Cheney said, one she welcomes.

It is also a wave spreading statewide, as school districts across Washington gear up to meet the state’s new Technology Plan Standards by next spring.

Dennis Small, program manager for the state superintendent of schools’ office of educational telecommunications, said the Technology Foundation Standards for Educational Leaders is a push for schools to “inspire a shared vision for comprehensive integration of technology and foster an environment and culture conducive to the realization of that vision.”

Small said the standards do not represent specific requirements that each district must comply with, but rather a new technological philosophy.

“The real goal is to say, ‘here we are in the 21st Century, let’s make sure we are using the tools of today and tomorrow,’” Small said. “The bottom line is to make sure by the time kids graduate, (technology) is something they’re able to use. It’s not about the technology — it’s about the learning.”

Small also said the standards are purposely general to allow each school district to adjust its plan to its needs and resources.

In South Kitsap, Cheney said, the district will be starting at the bottom and working their way up.

First, they need to toss out their current plan created in 1997—now ancient in technology years—and start over.

Next, Cheney said, the school district will go over what that have and what they need, piece by piece.

“We are going look at what wiring we have, our cabling, how many outlets, our whole infrastructure,” Cheney said. “Then we can see what skills our staff and teachers have, along with the skills the students have.”

To achieve this, the school district hired Olympia-based independent consulting firm C&M Technology, Inc., which began working with district staff in late November. C&M Technology President Michael Crose said the hiring of a company like his by a school district to revamp their technology plan is a “pretty standard process.”

Crose said C&M is under contract with SKSD for $20,000 for seven months of services that include analyzing and evaluating the district’s technology and personnel resources to create a new comprehensive technology plan.

This month, all district employees will be asked to complete an anonymous survey about their technology skills. Crose said the survey will be a crucial cost- and time- cutting measure, allowing the district to tailor training to each employee and the skills they require for their particular jobs.

Cheney said it is also important to carefully evaluate the students’ skills.

“Some of our kids are coming in more computer literate than we realize,” Cheney said. “So some of the stuff we have, such as instruments to teach kids basic keyboarding, may be obsolete.”

Cheney said she became familiar with C&M after they worked in Shoreline and with her former school district in Nevada. She said she chose the company because of its focus on schools and libraries, and its familiarity with the state standards and requirements. C&M will be working with the district until May.

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