Monday, April 28, 2014

Finance: update on technology

Update from administration on the Blue Ribbon Technology report
the report's not up online yet, but will be; I'll link once it is.
"as we prepare the FY15 budget, the most notable aspect you'll see is the increase of funds needed for the lease of our computers" as it is a full year this year (rather than a half year as it was for FY14)
technology has been "a lion's share of capital funds" over the past few years
network infrastructure and wireless infrastructure
"background information on developing the software applications in house" and how much we save by doing so
Walton: software development by writing computer code to make a computer do something

why develop rather than purchase?
software is expensive to purchase, as can changes in design
lose control of data by using a vendor
"you're a customer, just like all the other customers"
someone else decides which enhancements are a priority, not you
why buy?
software developers have highly competitive salaries
development takes time and effort
development costs can be high
prior to 1996, purchased off the shelf
John Burke in 1996 hired two software developers to create SAGE
updated over time til 2012
completely updated SAGE to make it web accessible
Student Attendance Grading and Enrollment
contains all of what we think of as a student record
...and list changes as needed
other software developed in house:

  • employee database (ED) is the HR database was also developed internally
  • grants database (have had other districts ask about) for tracking grants and budget of grants
  • referee invoice
  • paystub application for staff to view paystubs online
  • translation to track and manage documents that need translation (secure system that does not go via email) 
  • NightLife 
How much does it save us?
for something like SAGE: $1M the first year, $500,000 thereafter
we pay $250,000 a year to our three people in salaries and benefits
extra $35,000 for overtime in development this year
close to a $1M in first two years
Other applications?
SPED $75,000/yr
grants $25,000/yr
paystubs $19,000/yr
missing some here; I can't type that fast! savings $382,000 a year
saves us money, lets us choose which enhancements we need
"spending money to save money"

Foley: wise choice is looking at developing software as we can 
are we looking to sell SAGE? 
Allen: we don't have marketing, don't have that ability to do that
customized to MA reporting requirements
Foley: support network needed, as well
Allen: get other districts to fund support staff or further development 
Ramirez: how does this interface with external partners?
and what happens when we need to redo it?
Walton: certain fields that must be reported to DESE, same for every district in MA
"whenever we get a new system, we're really at an advantage, because we know our data"
don't need to go to our software vendor to make those changes
previous SAGE was written in Visual Basic 6
once XP went away, didn't need Visual Basic 6

Novick: what are we still buying?
ASOP: sub finder, as well as requesting vacation or sick time
SchoolSpring: job finder "where everyone else is"
VersaTrans: transportation uses it to schedule buses and stops
SchoolDude: work orders, utilities
teacher evaluation system (which is new the state)
city's financial managment system
nutrition system 
No means as yet to use as a general gradebook: would like to add
electronic grades only done in secondary level; adding elementary report cards
how often are the teachers required to go in? 
different log-ins for different sites: single sign-on for everything you have access to
need "federation" for staff and for students
Walton: Microsoft has a stronger security policy than Google does
if we were going to move to the cloud, WPS would move through Microsoft
worked with Dave Perda on that "privacy czar"
Google and Microsoft not going to sign an agreement with every district
commitment to review policy
would work with Dave Perda if we move more people

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