Shawnee Dispatch

De Soto district considering outsourcing technology services

March 6, 2012, 3:18 p.m. Updated: 7 March 2012, 12:00 a.m.

An outside firm soon may be handling technology in De Soto schools.

Following unanimous approval Monday, the De Soto school board will move forward on contract negotiations with K12itc, a Kansas City, Mo., firm that supports and manages technology in K-12 public schools.

Jessica Dain, the district’s director of professional and program development, said working with K12itc was the district’s way of “thinking differently” after several members of the district’s IT team resigned this school year, including Jeff Mildner, director of technology.

The technology firm would provide “turn-key technology service,” said Brad Sandt, president of K12itc.

“We would be providing all the technical support, as well as being a partner with the district in advising how to move forward when designing a technology plan, sustainability plan, things like that,” Sandt said.

Working with the firm also comes with the added benefit, Dain said, of being more budget-friendly than replacing staff members.

“We just can’t afford to pay a director of technology what a corporate world can,” Dain said. “So we needed to start thinking differently and so in doing that, we found a firm that can provide all of that to us and still stay within the budget.”

Still, the action didn’t come without questions from board members, such as how working with a technology firm would affect the status of the seven current IT staff members. Sandt said it was important to hold on to staff that already knows the district’s system.

“We find the individuals working in the technology department at De Soto as the experts, and so it’s a very collaborative relationship,” Sandt said.

Ken Larsen, the district’s director of budget and finance, said the contract with K12itc would not include new hardware such as laptops. But Sandt said the services provided by his firm would include helping the district formulate a long-term plan for when and how often replacements of existing hardware should be made.

“I think at this point, we are looking at our best choice,” Larsen said.

Dain said the district staff had originally considered three technology firms, but Monday’s action means she and her staff can now begin working out the contract with K12itc, such as cost, of which neither she nor Sandt provided an estimate at Monday’s meeting. Dain did say, however, that the hope is to have the contract approved by the board in time for K12itc to begin working with the district by the 2012-2013 school year.

K12itc has worked with a number of public school districts in the Kansas City area, including those in Park Hill, Mo., and Belton, Mo.

Also Monday, the board broke for executive session to discuss non-elected personnel, after which the board unanimously approved the resignation of Joan Robbins, the district’s director of special services.

Editor's note: This story contains a clarification from a previous version.

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