The Pitts Family
I became superintendent of Checotah Public Schools on July 1, 2013. During the first year, I observed the way technology was being used and set goals for the future. After observing the qualities exhibited by Marcus Pitts, I requested that he be recognized as our Technology Director. Marcus and his wife Mandi live in Checotah where they are raising their three children. We thank Marcus for a job well done. Checotah Public Schools now has a district vision and has made tremendous advancements under his leadership.
Listed below are areas of progress over the last few years:
Network Infrastructure Problem: Slow, Unreliable. Solution: Relocate network hub to center of district. This summer we have added a new backup server that also performs a nightly offsite cloud based backup. Internet Speed Problem: Maxing out our circuit which causes internet to be slow. Solution: Request higher speeds. We were at 40 MBPS in July of 2013. Through ERATE funding we requested and were granted 100 MBPS for the 2014-2015 school year, 200 MBPS for the 2015-2016 school year, and now at 300 MBPS for the 2016-2017 school year.
Wifi Availability Problem: We did not have enough high quality access points to cover the district’s growing number of wireless devices. Solution: Implementing a global wireless solution that can be managed easily and provide plenty of coverage. Cloud Technology Problem: Storage, Availability, & Security Solution: Using Cloud based solutions for storage provides us with storage that is virtually unlimited, available anywhere with internet access, and secure with redundant backups. We started using Google’s suite of web-based software last year and it has been a tremendous help to the district. Teachers can now access their email and documents from home from any electronic device including their phones. Moving to the cloud has also saved us money in licensing and servers. Software Subscriptions Problem: What did we have? How often was it used? Was it worth the cost? Solution: Gathering data. We spent numerous hours analyzing the number of licenses that we need not only for each grade or building, but for the district as a whole. We also look to see if a free solution is available. Although free is not always the best, we are very pleased with the free services provided by Google. This has made funds available to use in other ways. Currently we are implementing NWEA for a district wide solution for assessment. This data is collected on all students from K-12 grade and is nationally norm referenced. We will have benchmark data as well growth data on every student as be able to more efficiently meet the academic needs of every student.
Phone System Problem: The phone system crashed Solution: Replacing the old system with a new one along with a 5 year warranty. We are still having problems with Windstreams service. We have an open ticket and a Windstream technician is monitoring the situation. Last week they repaired our cable in multiple spots. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Security Problem: The security of the buildings around the district. Solution: We are continually adding cameras in areas where they are needed across the district. Electronic door locks have now been added at all sites. The high school staff have requested that a gate be added by the cafeteria for additional security. Conversation is occurring at all other sites and recommendations will be made in the near future.
Changing The Mindset Problem: Individual department or site goals/visions. Solution: Communicating the needs from each site into a district vision. The biggest shift that has taken place in Technology is that we will no longer “put a bandaid on it” and hope for the best. Technology will always require an investment and it does not take long for it to become outdated. We had tablets that could not be used and a Mac Lab that provided many challenges because we did not have the means to support them. We want to make all forms of technology available to all students. We have iPads, Chromebooks, iMacs, Thin Clients, and Windows machines across the district. We still have areas such as Truman Dixon and the Football Fieldhouse that need a stronger, more reliable connection to our network. We are in the process of making that happen.
Janet Blocker, Checotah Superintendent