District 26 looks to add technology coordinator

CARY – District 26 administrators want to hire an instructional technology coordinator to help teachers integrate the district’s computers and SMART boards into lesson plans.

The position was suggested a year ago, but the school board didn’t think there was a need yet. However, the need is definitely there now, administrators say.

District administrators say the coordinator would earn $60,000 to $69,000 a year. The Cary-based district would save at least $20,000 a year on technology training for staff, as that role would be done in-house.

The person would provide support during the school day, show effective use of technology in the classroom, establish an environment that encourages creative and independent uses of technology to improve student learning, and ensure that technology is part of school improvement plans, among other things, said Valerie McCall,
director of curriculum and instruction.

District 26 technology coordinator Andrew Fitzsimons, who mostly handles hardware issues, said there is a problem with getting help immediately, especially when this type of role is outsourced.

“If there is a problem that is happening right now, unless you’re paying to have that person at your buildings every day ... you don’t have anybody who can drop what they’re doing and go. You would have to wait for a consultant to arrive. Depending how far that consultant is, it could be hours,” Fitzsimons said. “In-house, you have that person who can drop what they’re doing and help [teachers] with the process.”

Fitzsimons said that if there are physical problems with equipment, the issue will go to the technology coordinator. If there’s a problem with the teacher effectively using the SMART board in instruction and integrating a SMART board, then it goes to the instructional technology coordinator.

Superintendent Brian Coleman said the proposed employee would help create a technology vision for District 26.

“We’ve worked out of this maintain-and-survive mode for the last 10 years. ... We’re at a point now, technology has become a big part of instruction ... that we had to look at vision,” Coleman said. “We’re moving from maintenance now to strategically using technology as a part of instruction.”

Coleman said administrators believe sharing an instructional technology coordinator position with other districts is not feasible.

“We feel this is a huge need,” Coleman said.

The district has 31 SMART boards in use this school year, and teachers surveyed said the boards have worked well.

As part of the technology plan, the district plans to spend $318,000 this year on equipment purchases. That includes replacing computer lab equipment at Briargate School and Cary Junior High, and buying SMART boards for Briargate, Deerpath and Cary Junior High, among other things.

Three Oaks would get four new media carts, three new SMART bundles and new mobile computer labs, through Title I funding.

“I think if we’re going to add more technology, this [instructional technology coordinator] position becomes even more critical,” board member Kevin Carrick said. “We had this discussion last year, and we didn’t see the need for it because we didn’t have some of this in place, and now we have some of it in place, we’re going to be adding more. Now there’s becoming a greater need.”

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