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January 19, 2009

District hires technicians
After years of obtaining technology support through a contract with MPC, the district will no longer use outside sources to maintain its network infrastructure, 1,400 computers, peripherals and software.

School Board members approved hiring two full-time technicians who will provide technology support services. MPC ceased providing services in December after filing for Chapter 11 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court last November – six months before its contract was to expire on June 30.

For more than 10 years, the district contracted with outside technology firms for services. It contracted with OmniTech Corporation, which later became MPC, beginning in 2000 for a network engineer and two technicians. The School Board hired its first in-house network engineer in 2006 to oversee MPC staff. The move saved money for the district and provided cohesive network services.

In her proposal to the School Board, Instructional Technology and Assessment Coordinator Katherine Little reported that the district would “incur a substantial monetary increase to maintain the same level of support” if it were to outsource technology personnel through another company.

The contract, which had provided 1.9 full-time equivalent positions in the district, cost $157,000 for the 2008-09 school year. The cost to hire two full-time technicians, including salary and benefits, will not exceed that amount. Little reported that estimates to outsource the technician positions through other technology firms would cost more than $218,880.

School Board members approved the new position description for client technology support technicians. They also modified the network engineer’s position to include providing supervisory feedback regarding the technicians’ job performance.

The School Board approved hiring Scott Singer and Benjamin Hawley as district support technicians.

Marcy site plan approved
Principal Michele Trawicki., reported on Marcy Elementary School’s Site Plan. She noted that Marcy students perform well academically in comparison to district and state data, but there have been some slight decreases in some areas. The most significant was in fourth grade, which had been identified in previous School Board reports. Trawicki wrote in her report that the fourth grade has a significant number of students who require additional support from special education and resource teachers. School staff put plans in place to intervene with students throughout the year and consider possible accommodations for testing.

In addition, Trawicki said that staff will look more closely at students entering Marcy in later years because analysis of test results showed that students who performed minimal or basic on tests likely did not begin their education in the district.

Marcy staff members continue to work on the site plan’s tactics which state that:

  • Students, staff and parents will attain the highest possible levels of achievement through the use of effective and innovative practices;
  • The Marcy community will actively embrace its vision statement; and
  • Students will receive the academic support they need through the creative and efficient allocation of time and resources by all members of the Marcy community.

Maple students show off research, technology skills
School Board members were treated to animal research projects of Maple Avenue fourth-graders. Students were accompanied by their parents and teachers Patricia Coburn, Kim Mechenich, Terri Manske, Brian Latus and Principal Kristin Koeper-Hamblin. The project was an integrated research project in which students created narrated presentations that highlighted their findings.

Unpaid school fees at its lowest level in 10 years
Only one student from Hamilton’s class of 2008 had unpaid school fees – the lowest level in the past 10 years. Beginning with the class of 2005, the district changed procedures to reduce outstanding school fees among Hamilton students. Six invoices are sent each year to students with unpaid fees. In addition, balances greater than $50 are turned over to a collection agency in July.

Prior to the changes, between eight and 17 students from the graduating classes had unpaid school fees for combined debts of $497 to $1,891. In contrast, the class of 2008 had one student who had $37.50 in unpaid fees.

Next year, students who have unpaid fees or fine balances will not be able to get a parking permit until they are paid up.

Administrators are bracing for the impact that difficult economic conditions may have on students and their families. The school will remain flexible as it works with families to minimize the impact on families when possible.

School nurse recognized for service
School nurse Lynn McClone was recognized for the work she performs in the district. Special Services Supervisor Mardi Freeman commended McClone for “quietly working behind the scenes” to supervise the district’s health and nursing services. Under a part-time contract, McClone oversees student health plans, vision and hearing screening, summer school healthcare concerns, staff training and various other duties.

Personnel news
In other personnel business, the School Board approved the retirement requests of Templeton gifted and talented teacher Sherry Malmon and Marcy special education teacher Barbara Sadler effective at the end of the school year.