Purdy School Board approves major technology upgrades

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Chancellor begins transition from Microsoft to Google

Two major technology changes are coming for the Purdy School District.

After a visit to Google headquarters, Superintendent Steven Chancellor announced he planned to move from a district centered around Microsoft technology to becoming a Google district. The big advantage, he noted, was in moving document storage to Google's Cloud.

"The change will work well with our iPads," Chancellor said. "We'll give students Google accounts. The spread sheets and word processors are all web-based, so you'll always have access to them.

"We'll probably see opportunities for more integration with teacher products. E-mail addresses will remain the same."

Chancellor said he had only begun working out the logistics for such a change. He expected a full change would take several months.

The board approved signing on with technology vendor k12tic, based in Kansas City, to make a major upgrade in the technology backbone for the district. The process will upgrade the wireless network as well as all the switches and routers. Purdy's high percentage of students qualifying for free and reduced meals enabled the district to secure a high rate of reimbursement through the federal E-rate program for the upgrade. The managed services contract under k12tic would result in lower payments after E-rate reimbursement, committing the vendor to making upgrades over time, which should result in faster service.

Chancellor said much of the upgrade will take place behind the scenes. People will likely see wire being run to replace old equipment in April.

After months of study, a new accounting and payroll software program was selected for the district. Purdy had joined the Pierce City and Monett school districts in looking at options for equipment, jointly viewing presentations by vendors. Chancellor recommended selection of the SISFIN system, made by a St. Louis-based company purchased by Tyler Technologies.

"The program we're using was developed eons ago," Chancellor said. "It was never meant to grow to the size it has. It was meant to be used on one computer. This brings us to a modern era and gives us stable, reliable software. The new system is probably the second most widely used program in the state by schools and it's geared to smaller districts."

Base price for the new program is approximately $13,000. Chancellor estimated that with training, the district will spend approximately $17,000 in making the conversion, then pay slightly less than $5,000 annually to renew use. With school board approval, the conversion will begin in March, preparing the new system to go live on July 1.

"We'll have time to have all our history transferred over by then, make sure all our account codes are correct and our our staff and vendors are being paid," Chancellor said.

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