School Matters: the Department of Technology prepares for the start of the school year | Education
Every summer, while students are having fun in the sun, public school districts across the state prepare for another school year.
Victoria ISD is no different in that during the summer months, district departments prepare for students and teachers to be back on campus to learn and thrive.
The VISD Technology Department has been featured multiple times throughout the 2021-2022 school year with its work to improve access and equity to technology devices and district and campus technology infrastructure. CTO Greg Dandio kicked off 2021-22 by implementing Schoology, a learning management system (LMS) purpose-built to help schools improve student performance while enabling equity and access to each student.
Today we are going to highlight a bit of what the VISD Technology Department is doing throughout the summer to prepare our campuses for another successful year of educating VISD students.
Victoria ISD covers over 606 square miles with two early learning campuses, 14 elementary campuses, seven secondary campuses, and one alternate school campus. The Technology Department not only helps these campuses meet their technology needs, but also works with Athletics, the Maintenance Department, and the Victoria ISD Fine Arts Center.
Historically, summer has been used by technology to clean equipment used by students on campuses and prepare campuses for the upcoming school year. Laptop cleaning includes reimaging, document and data erasure, damage repair, and physical damage repair.
This summer, however, with the implementation of individual technology in grades three through five on elementary campuses for the 2022-2023 school year, summer work looks a little different. In addition to cleaning laptops, technicians are also working to enroll 3,000 Chromebooks for students and install 150 chrome book carts on elementary campuses.
Chromebook carts are specially designed for elementary schools. They open from the top and feature six different colored baskets for easy distribution to groups of students. Students will have chargers at home, and the cart also has charging ports for a classroom charging station.
Technology will implement this same work for individual technology over the next two summers, but for different grade levels that will gradually be integrated into the distribution of individual technology. Once implemented in middle and high schools, these campuses will not have Chromebook carts as students will use Chromebooks at night for homework and projects.
The technology department is also working to develop training processes, which is a one-year process. Everything the Department of Technology is doing for the 2022-2023 school was discussed and developed in September and October 2021 in conjunction with the Curriculum, Instruction, and Accountability (CIA) department. Training, Google Suite training, and Schoology training are planned and designed months in advance of implementation.
Working with technological devices is not the only summer project in which the VISD technology department participates.
Another big summer project to prepare schools for the 2022-2023 school year is a major wireless upgrade to the district’s network infrastructure. Although supply chain issues caused that work to bleed into the fall, the project will be complete by December trials. During the 87th Texas Legislature in 2021, House Bill 3261 required state assessments to be administered online by the 2022–23 school year. The wireless configuration and wireless environment will support district-wide online testing requirements. The wireless network infrastructure will be subject to a five-year upgrade schedule and is fully funded by the E-rate program. So, on July 1, be sure to complete the Free/Reduced Meals Application and/or Earnings Survey; this enables the district to receive E-Rate funding to provide schools and libraries with affordable access to advanced telecommunications services.
Finally, two major projects that are underway throughout this summer and expected to be completed in the 22-23 school year are the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Public Address (PA) system. VoIP is a technology that will allow staff to make voice calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (analog) phone line. The District is making this transition because the current system is over 20 years old and does not provide the advanced safety and security the District needs to be in place to protect students and staff.
In line with ongoing safety and security actions, the Technology Department will also install a new public address system that will have the capability to reach the entire district, campus and campus sub-areas via the network to enable regular notifications as well as emergency notices. Additionally, it is structured to allow principals to broadcast to specific areas and/or classrooms rather than across campus. This will reduce class interruptions.
Come fall, when you walk the halls and hear students clicking their Chromebooks, we’ll get to see firsthand the tech departments’ summer work efforts to prepare the campus for another year of learning and learning. ‘education. Our VISD Technology department and so many other departments are working tirelessly throughout the summer and year to keep us going, and for that, we’re grateful to have them on #TeamVISD.
Ashley Scott is Executive Director of Communications and Public Relations for Victoria ISD.