Technology Champion: Lake Washington’s Chip Kimball isleading a four-part plan for successInfrastructure, access, culture, and information are keys to his approach

Chip Kimball is well on his way to achieving the goal he has set for himself and the Lake Washington School District.

“My charter was to create the most information-rich school district in the country,” he said. “Ideally, we want to use technology for the betterment of the whole system.”

Kimball, the assistant superintendent for Lake Washington, is a former science teacher and technology coordinator for Madera School District and has held positions as a private-sector technology consultant and Technology Center Fellow.

He recently led his district to the largest funding measure in its history ($260 million), including $30 million for technology. A successful grant writer and public speaker, Kimball also has published numerous works on funding, technology planning, and implementation.

Lake Washington, located in Redmond, Wash., consists of 42 schools and an estimated 25,000 students

If one glance at Lake Washington’s impressive web site is not enough to convince browsers that this is one tech-savvy school district, then the ambitious technology plan outlined by Kimball no doubt would convert them.

“We have created four areas of focus, in order of priority: infrastructure, access, culture, and information resources,” Kimball explained.

Kimball believes the first two aspects of his four-part technology plan are key to paving a school district’s way to the information superhighway: In order to harness technology’s true potential, leaders must first pay attention to infrastructure and access, he said.

Lake Washington has already achieved a large portion of its hardware and software goals. “We have rewired our whole school district with fiber optic cables at all levels,” Kimball stated. “We have fiber optics direct to our classrooms.”

High-bandwidth technology provided through fiber-optics is especially impressive, considering there are school systems nationwide still waiting for any kind of internet access.

In addition to very high-speed internet access for Lake Washington’s students, Kimball has helped the district achieve one of the best student to computer ratios in the nation, with four students to every multimedia computer district-wide.

But Kimball and his district are not just committed to providing their students with computers and internet access. As part of its infrastructure initiatives, the district has pledged that none of its equipment will be any older than five years.

“That means that in any given year, we upgrade 20 percent of our equipment,” Kimball noted, and added that Lake Washington students are learning how to use very current equipment.

Culture of technology

The district is currently focusing its energies on the third part of the four-fold technology plan by trying to create a culture of technology at Lake Washington.

In order to ensure that teachers are provided with the training they need to utilize Lake Washington’s high-level technology for teaching and learning, district leaders have implemented a four-step professional development program.

The first step helps turn computer-illiterate educators into “information navigators.” Kimball defined the information navigator as a staff member who “can demonstrate basic skills.” These teachers and administrators should be able to use and apply software such as Word, Excel, and Access, use search engines to find information on the world wide web, and feel comfortable with Windows-based architecture.

The district has set teacher standards to be proficiency-based rather than “seat-time” based, according to Kimball, which means teachers must demonstrate an actual cache of computer knowledge, not just an attendance at computer training sessions.

The second level that educators are encouraged to attain is the “information integrator.” Kimball defines this type of staff member as one who “can integrate technology into a student-centered, project-based curriculum.” Integrators attempt to facilitate a technology-rich environment at their school, Kimball said, and Lake Washington plans to foster this philosophy by sending all 13,000 teachers in the district to a six-day summer institute on the subject.

The third level that tech-culture leaders in the district hope to achieve is the “information synthesizer.” This is a person who can use computer data effectively in order to assess statistics, look at patterns, and understand demographics to better serve students.

Kimball hopes that many educators will reach the highest level of technology culture and become what Lake Washington calls an “information mentor.” Mentors have the capabilities necessary to teach other colleagues how to use technology effectively.

He estimates that 50 percent of the staff is now up to the “navigator” level, and about 250 educators are “integrators” as of last summer’s training institute. In order to ensure that the district is not supplying untrained teachers with high-tech equipment, schools only become eligible for computer upgrades after a certain number of educators have completed integrator training. The district expects 500 educators to attend the institute next summer and another 500 to attend in 2001.

Kimball’s philosophy on staff development in schools indicates his commitment to providing Lake Washington students with a technology-rich learning environment: “We have high expectations of our staff. We don’t want you to work here unless you are comfortable with and able to use technology.”

The emphasis on computer learning is also demonstrated by the fact that the only way to get a job at Lake Washington School District is through the web.

The fourth and final stage of Kimball’s technology plan—the information resource component—is a wide-reaching goal for all educational activities to be accessible electronically. For example, if students are studying the Civil War, they could log on to the district’s network; receive a list of all appropriate sites, texts, and sources; find their assignment; and receive instruction and feedback. Lake Washington already has its card catalogs, encyclopedias, and other sources online.

Kimball said that Lake Washington is working on this final goal in conjunction with the Washington State Department of Education, and the district hopes to have this component operational by next fall. But, he added, “We’ve had problems finding adequate products. We may have to develop this [component] ourselves.”

Lake Washington School District


Business Briefs: News from the companies that supply your schools’ technology solutions

ZapMe!, Dell ink alliance

ZapMe! Corp. and Dell Computer Corp. on Aug. 23 announced an alliance to bring Dell’s OptiPlex PCs and PowerEdge servers to ZapMe!-installed schools.

Under the agreement, Dell becomes the principal supplier of PCs and servers for the ZapMe! network. Through Dell’s custom factory integration service, DellPlus, the systems will be pre-configured with software for both internet connectivity and classroom instruction.

In addition, Dell has made an equity investment in ZapMe!, and the two companies will collaborate in both product development and joint marketing programs.

ZapMe! also appointed a new chief executive officer, Rick Inatome, on Sept. 20. Inatome was founder and served as CEO of Inacomp Computer Centers and is chairman of its successor company, Inacom Corp., a global Fortune 500 technology services provider. In addition, he co-founded Computer City, one of the country’s leading computer superstore chains, and is co-chairman of American Speedy Printing Centers Inc., the nation’s fourth largest quick-printing chain.

ZapMe! founder Lance Mortensen will remain actively involved as chairman and devote his efforts to business development and creative strategies, the company said.

Lightspan acquires Global Schoolhouse

The Lightspan Partnership Inc., developers of comprehensive educational software and web-based tools and activities for classroom learning, on Sept. 8 announced the acquisition of Global Schoolhouse, a leading web site for classroom-to-classroom communication.

With this acquisition, Lightspan is well positioned to bring the best in collaborative learning activities to more teachers and to extend its mission of improving student achievement, the company said in a press release.

“Global Schoolhouse and Lightspan are a natural fit,” said Winnie Wechsler, senior vice president and general manager of Lightspan’s internet services. “Our mission is to use technology to help kids learn, and Global Schoolhouse, a true pioneer in using the internet for exchanging ideas and information, will enhance Lightspan’s growing online community for teachers, kids, and parents.”

Proceeds from the purchase of Global Schoolhouse will serve as an endowment for the non-profit Global SchoolNet Foundation. “As a result of this endowment, the foundation will be able to provide grants to teachers for expanding classroom use of the internet,” said Yvonne Marie Andres, co-founder of Global Schoolhouse and a new vice president at Lightspan.

“The goal is to reward those forward-thinking teachers and organizations—and help them put in place great online curriculum projects for their students,” Andres continued. The first grants will be awarded early next year, she said.

College Board to create for-profit web site

Pressure from the rapidly expanding online industry that helps students prepare for and select colleges has motivated the College Board, the non-profit organization that administers the SAT, to create its first for-profit subsidiary in a move to establish a full-service web site of its own.

The decision marks a radical shift for the century-old organization best known as the objective overseer of college entrance exams. The move follows a host of other advertisement-driven online ventures, including an upgrade of the Princeton Review’s web site, that focus on the lucrative high school and college market—a trend that has raised concerns among many about the commercialization of education.

The College Board’s plan for a web site to cater to a college applicant’s every need, from financial aid forms to SAT tutoring, marks the convergence of two major trends in education in the 1990s: the expansion of for-profit enterprises and the large number of electronic endeavors.

“We’re living in a world of piranha economics in regard to education,” Arthur Levine, president of the Teacher’s College at Columbia University, told the New York Times. “Every Wall Street firm, seemingly, has an education department. Venture capitalists are moving into this very quickly. Any nonprofit that fails to recognize both the opportunities and the challenges that come from the digital world is destined for extinction.”

Cisco gets into fiber optics with $7.4 billion acquisitions

Shoring up an iron grip on the market for internet equipment, Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., is paying $7.4 billion for two companies with expertise in the fiber-optic technology needed to carry telephone calls and TV over data networks.

The acquisitions of Cerent and Monterey Networks, announced Aug. 26, put Cisco in direct competition with Lucent Technologies, Nortel Networks, and Alcatel in a market that analysts expect to grow to $10 billion during the next three years.

The Cerent purchase is the biggest ever for Cisco, which today controls roughly 85 percent of the world’s market for the routers and switches that direct data around computer networks.

“The size of this deal really surprised me, but Cisco had a clear hole in their product portfolio, and they simply had to fill it,” said Chandan Sarkar, an analyst at Soundview Financial. “I think these guys had Cisco over a barrel.”

Cerent, based in Petaluma, Calif., makes a microwave-sized device that can be used by providers of cable, phone, and internet service to ease bottlenecks between the speedy fiber-optic “backbones” that make up the internet and older, slower telephone networks made with copper.

Monterey, based in Richardson, Texas, makes technology used to increase capacity at the core of an optical network.

“The internet is going optical fiber, no doubt, and Cisco just wasn’t in on it yet,” said Gina Socklow, an analyst at Brean Murray & Co. “Now they’re back in the race.”

Mike Volpi, Cisco’s vice president of business development, said the deals will enable it to help customers such as internet service providers make the transition from “old world networks—voice networks” to multimedia networks carrying data, voice, and video together.

Analysts say CEO departure will hurt Iomega

Stock analysts say the departure of Iomega’s chief executive officer, Jodie Glore, will hurt the struggle to right greater stability to the company.

Glore was the second CEO to leave the company in 10 months. He was temporarily replaced by David J. Dunn, who said he plans to return the company to “profitable growth.”

“The fact that Jodie is leaving is a significant impediment to the return to profitability of Iomega,” said analyst Stan Corker of Pennsylvania-based Emerald Research, during a round-table discussion of analysts carried over the internet.

Officials at the Roy, Utah-based company, which makes disk drives for computer data storage, said they don’t understand the pessimism.

“We’re puzzled here at some of the reaction,” said spokeswoman Janet Kacskos. “Some of the comments have got the employees scratching their heads.” She said the company has new hardware and software hitting the market and “we’re full steam ahead.”

Reasons for Glore’s Aug. 19 resignation are unclear. He joined the company last October, and said he was leaving to spend time with his family. But there was speculation that Glore may have been asked to leave the company.

When Glore was hired, his job was to right a company whose stock price had fallen from $40 per share in 1995 and had fallen to $9 when he took over. But analysts were critical of Glore’s performance, including layoffs and plant closures in California, billed as cost-cutting moves.

In all, seven top executives, not including the CEOs, have left in the past two years, which Corker said made it tough to turn the company around. That’s bad news for a company pinning its future on a strong fourth quarter, Corker said.

Western Digital recalls 400,000 computer hard drives

A defective computer chip has forced Western Digital Corp., of Orange County, Calif., to recall 400,000 hard disk drives.

Western Digital officials said it was unclear how many of the affected hard drives actually were in consumer hands or how much the recall would cost.

The company, which supplies equipment to Gateway Inc. and Compaq Computer Corp., said many of the disk drives were still in the hands of manufacturers and sellers.

The defect can cause the hard drives to fail to power up after six to 12 months of use, company officials said Sept. 27.

“No data has been lost, and none is in danger of being lost,” said Charles Haggerty, Western Digital’s chief executive.

The recall is the latest in a string of problems for the company, including recent layoffs and a plunging stock price.

The hard drives being recalled are part of the WD Cavair series. They were made between Aug. 27 and Sept. 24 and have drive capacities between 6.4 gigabytes and 20.5 gigabytes, the company said.

Consumers who purchased computers in the past month can check specification sheets on their machines to see if they include a Western Digital drive, officials said. The company’s web site,, offers a software program that can be downloaded to identify affected products.


‘Principal Cam’ earns superintendent a felony conviction

A jury has convicted a northern California superintendent of felony eavesdropping for installing a hidden video recorder in a principal’s office. The case highlights the legal ambiguities brought on by an increased use of electronic surveillance in the workplace.

Craig Drennan, superintendent of the Modoc Joint Unified School District, was charged by Modoc County District Attorney Tom Buckwalter May 11 after police discovered the video camera in a fake smoke detector in former Modoc High School Principal Dewey Pasquini’s office (see eSchool News, July).

The jury took less than hour to find Drennan guilty of those charges Sept. 8. He faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $27,000, though Buckwalter said he would be surprised if the sentence involves prison time.

Superior Court Judge Larry Dryer scheduled a sentencing hearing for Oct. 12.

Drennan, who remains on paid administrative leave, said he installed the camera under the guidelines of the school district’s lawyer in an effort catch someone who had apparently rifled through personnel files in Pasquini’s office. The school board president also was aware of the camera.

Drennan told eSchool News last spring that he didn’t think he was acting illegally, because the camera recorded only video images and not sound.

“I don’t understand the charge,” Drennan said at the time. “As I understand the (penal) code and the case law, eavesdropping has to involve sound and it has to involve intent. There was no sound and there was no intent.”

Eavesdropping laws vary by state. In California, the penal code refers to the recording of “confidential communication,” and does not specifically mention or exclude videotaping or audiovisual surveillance.

After the verdict, Drennan told reporters that he was surprised by the jury’s decision and that he planned to appeal.

Assumption of privacy

Acting on a tip from an unnamed citizen, police discovered the camera on May 5. Chief of Police Larry Pickett said he learned the school district spent $4,500 to have the camera installed by a Redding, Calif., alarm company.

The camera was connected to a videotape recorder in the attic above the boys’ restroom, where the district’s maintenance chief testified he installed a new tape at 5 a.m. every day and delivered the previous day’s tape to Drennan’s office.

Pickett said Drennan told him that the tapes contained no evidence of wrongdoing in Pasquini’s office and that he had ordered the tapes destroyed.

When reached at his home last spring, Drennan said he didn’t inform the principal because he wanted to ensure that as few people knew about the camera as possible.

“When you put in a surveillance camera, you only want to tell the people that need to know,” he said. “I believe that by telling him, the surveillance would have been ineffective.

“It’s pretty standard procedure in lots of industries that when you think there’s a security problem, you have a secret camera installed,” he added.

Legal or not, however, the idea didn’t sit well with Principal Pasquini.

“I feel especially betrayed. It never occurred to me that anybody would do this. It caught me by surprise,” Pasquini said after the charges were filed.

“It’s always been considered a place where people could have privacy,” he said, referring to his private office. “The superintendent and I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, which is probably a reason for the video.”

Bill Hall, who was president of the district’s board of trustees when the camera was installed, said he didn’t have a problem with the superintendent’s plan, because Drennan told him he had spoken with the school district’s attorney and had been given the OK to install it.

But eSchool News ethics and law columnist David Splitt had this view: Although there is no mention of videotaping or “visual” surveillance in the California law, the statute is so broadly worded that even “silent surveillance” might be unlawful.

“On the other hand, the introductory language in the statute specifically mentions ‘listening devices,'” Splitt said. “The appellate court will have to consider whether the law is limited to eavesdropping on ‘sounds,’ or whether any type of communication is covered.”

If the court finds that the law covers sign language and lip reading, as well as other nonverbal communication, the conviction could stand, Splitt said.

Drennan has been on administrative leave with full pay since May 13. At press time, Interim Superintendent Don Demsher said the district board had made no move to seek Drennan’s dismissal or to find a regular replacement.

Modoc High School