PPEL: the next generation

tngIt’s not often that I get a chance to include a Star Trek reference in the technology blog, so I’ll milk this one for all it’s worth: PPEL shall henceforth be referred to in this blog as PPEL:TNG, or PPEL: the next generation.

In 2011, voters in the ADM School District approved the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy, which provides approximately $250,000 per year for technology in the district, in addition to funding for the transportation department and related projects.  The life of the voter-approved PPEL is 10 years, expiring after the 2021-22 school year.  The original PPEL plan, as described to voters, city councils and community groups, and ADM parents, students, and staff was a 10-year plan that included hard numbers for all ten years, but called for discussion and revision following the fifth year of implementation to adapt to the ever-changing world of technology.

I’m happy to say that, to this point, we have stuck to the original plan as closely as possible, and the first generation of PPEL technology reflects almost exactly what we had planned.  This generation of technology purchases included replacement of all district computers and other devices (of which the average age was 8.2 years pre-PPEL), installation of new network switching and wireless infrastructure, a new VMWare virtual server infrastructure, purchase of OS X and iOS management software, a building-to-building fiber network, and 14 mobile device carts throughout the buildings, in addition to new PLTW Biomedical Science and Gateway to Technology labs.  Each of these projects has been completed, and we’ve been able to stretch our dollars even further to meet some other crucial needs that have arisen, such as a new district firewall and Chromebooks to accommodate the loss of a computer lab due to construction at DeSoto Intermediate School.

Even though it seems like we’ve just completed these projects, my attention is turning in earnest to PPEL:TNG, which really begins in 2016-17 – just over a year away – with decisions regarding replacement or rethinking deployment of devices that the current PPEL budget calls to be replaced on a four-year cycle that began in 2012-13.  In order to develope a plan for PPEL:TNG, the district will form a committee consisting of the ADM District Technology Committee, which includes representatives from each building, as well as the director of technology, superintendent, and parent and student representatives.  If you are a parent or student who is interested in participating on this committee, please get in touch with me (Adam Kurth) via email at akurth@adm.k12.ia.us.

While the committee will begin the process with all options available, I think that it’s important that the process be guided by one fundamental question: how can technology best support the district’s mission of engaging all students in a challenging and supportive learning environment that ensures individual student success?  Too often, planning processes start with questions about what device to purchase, whether to give each student a laptop, or concerns about classroom management, rather than the question of how we can best serve our students.

I’m tremendously excited to start this process, and look forward to talking with committee members and those throughout our school committee as we plan for PPEL: the next generation.

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