eSchool News’ 2002 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards

Doug Otto, Plano (Texas) Independent School District

Doug Otto has led the 50,000-student Plano Independent School District since 1995. Equity, access, and innovation are the three hallmarks of the district’s technology initiatives. Each of the classrooms in 39 elementary schools is equipped with computers and video equipment for student use, and every classroom in the district’s 20 secondary schools is equipped to technology standards specific to its content area. In addition, 1,000 classrooms have large-screen digital light projectors to facilitate group discussions and presentations.

All district sites are connected via Plano’s recently completed fiber-optic network, and wireless networking has been implemented in those campuses where space does not allow for fixed wiring solutions. All grading and attendance is completed electronically at the classroom level, and curriculum materials from grades K-8 are fully accessible from district-designed, web-based databases.

Plano’s distance learning eSchool has been in operation for more than a year, providing students with the opportunity to take courses any time, anywhere. The district’s most current project is the introduction of, a program that will enable students to access their campus network and district-licensed electronic resources from home.

W. L. Sawyer, Manhattan High Schools (New York City)

For the past three years, W. L. Sawyer has served as superintendent of the Manhattan High Schools, overseeing 38 schools and 46,000 students. In an effort to streamline the information process for administrators throughout his district, Sawyer instituted a student information system that was developed in-house to make student progress data more accessible.

Sawyer also has enhanced professional development for teachers and administrators through the use of IBM Learning Village, which aids teachers in preparing and sharing lessons with colleagues. Additionally, parents of Manhattan High School students can check their children’s grades and attendance at a web site called

Sawyer believes that technology and learning are synonymous. As a result, he continues to ensure that all schools remain equipped with state-of-the-art computers and other technological innovations necessary for student progress.

James W. Scott, Spring Cove (Pa.) School District

Last year, in an effort spearheaded by Scott, Spring Cove was chosen as one of Pennsylvania’s three Digital School District award winners, receiving a $4 million grant from the state to realize its technology vision. Then-Gov. Tom Ridge devised the contest to award grants to the Pennsylvania districts that had the best ideas for transforming education through technology.

The heart of Spring Cove’s plan was to provide technology access for its rural community. Toward that end, the district is building the Cove Educational Community Center, which will serve as the ed-tech hub for the entire district and will feature state-of-the-art computers, high-speed internet access, large group presentation boards, and web conferencing capabilities. In addition, the center will be used for community education programs and job retraining programs.

Local convenience stores will have computer kiosks to provide internet access for families that do not have computers at home. An internet portal will house all of the district’s information—from student grades to school calendars—in one, neat package, and a wide area network (WAN) will connect all school buildings, libraries, and municipal buildings.

Scott, who has been Spring Cove’s superintendent since 1992, is negotiating cheaper internet access for Spring Cove residents. In addition, he has organized Superintendent Technology Forums so administrators from other Pennsylvania districts can exchange ideas and form partnerships to leverage contractors and suppliers.

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