Meet the Winners—Dr. Kellie Wilks, Chief Technology Officer, of Ector County Independent School District, TX (ECISD)

The CoSN Withrow CTO Award recognizes an exceptional district CTO who serves as a true technology champion and whose leadership has been transformative for their school system. The award honors Frank Withrow, a pioneer and champion of K-12 education technology.

“It’s nice to be recognized,” said Dr. Kellie Wilks, Chief Technology Officer, ECISD. “I humbly accept this award on behalf of the whole Technology division. Everyone I have worked with has contributed to my success and to the things I have been able to do.”

Dr. Wilks has a long-standing history of supporting ECISD. She was involved in the Raising Blended Learners Grant and the Math Innovation Zones Grant, as well as initiatives to bridge the digital divide. She is a collaborative leader who has developed partnerships in the community that encourage shared best practices and provide opportunities for all students.…Read More

Admins need PD too— Insights on CoSN’s CTO Academy

What does it take to run the tech for a school district in 2024? A lot more than resetting the router. At #CoSN2024 next week, a cohort of news CTOs will convene as part of the year-long CTO Academy. Kelly Sain, Thompson School District (CO) CTO, was gracious enough to give eSchool some details. She emphasizes the evolving role of a CTO, moving beyond technical aspects to focus on improving student learning experiences through technology; Stresses the necessity of digital access and equity for students and the integration of technology into curricula; And underscores the value of collaborative learning and mentorship provided by programs like the CTO Academy in addressing challenges and staying updated with industry trends. Have a listen.

Details for the program: The CTO Academy For K-12 Early Career and Aspiring CTOs is a program to address the needs of education technology leaders who are new (less than four full years) to their CTO or Technology Leadership position or aspiring CTOs and EdTech leaders currently working in a technology department. Participants will have the opportunity to develop edtech leadership skills including; managing diverse teams, leading a variety of projects simultaneously, and collaborating with a variety of stakeholders. Academy participants make a positive impact on student-centered and digital learning in their school district and enhance their career trajectory.

Transcript …Read More

Frontline Education Announces Chris Tonas as Chief Technology Officer

Malvern, Pa. (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Frontline Education, a leading provider of administration software purpose-built for educators in K-12, today announced that Chris Tonas has joined the company’s executive team as Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Chris brings with him over three decades of invaluable experience in software engineering and development, having held leadership roles at Pluralsight and Oracle.

As CTO, Chris is responsible for leading the technological aspects of the company including engineering and development and managing cloud infrastructure and security.

Mark Gruzin, CEO of Frontline Education, expressed his excitement about Chris joining the team: “As we continue to grow and innovate, we are pleased to welcome Chris as our new CTO. We will gain the benefits of Chris’ extensive experience in software engineering, a track record of strategic leadership, and his commitment to engineering advancements. Chris’ passion for innovation and collaborative spirit align seamlessly with Frontline’s goals.”…Read More

5 ways IT leaders can inspire digital transformation post-pandemic

The past year propelled IT teams and leadership into the spotlight with never-before-seen digital transformation and multi-year technology plans executed practically overnight. After a year of awe-inspiring progress, Hillsborough County Public Schools CTO Jeremy Bunkley believes K-12 IT leaders need to keep the momentum going to ensure the year’s gains translate to long lasting technology and culture transformation.

A veteran IT leader and change agent, Bunkley embraced the pandemic’s challenges as a catalyst for district transformation. After building a collaborative ecosystem of partners, he executed some of the largest technology projects in the district’s history in a span of only 11 months, including migrating to a new, more effective email client, increasing technology staff through additional federal funding opportunities, creating the blueprint for a dark fiber WAN, and overhauling the district’s Wi-Fi network to a cloud solution.

Additionally, Bunkley worked directly with an OEM–a move rarely leveraged in K-12–to design custom Windows laptops tailored to the needs of district students and the technology environment, enabling HCPS to roll out 190,000 devices with a focus on 1:1 in grades second through twelfth while saving the district $5.6M. Future projects on the horizon include building a private LTE network and integrating application usage data analytics.…Read More

Keeping COVID innovations even after the pandemic passes

Hoover City Schools in suburban Birmingham, AL, was already one-to-one when the pandemic struck in March. And while its transition to remote learning in the spring was relatively painless, teachers and students continue to adjust to the new realities of hybrid school days.

In this conversation with eSchool News, Bryan Phillips, CTO of Hoover City Schools, describes some of the positives he notices with this forced migration and divines which practices should probably remain once we get back to whatever normal is.

Related content: How automation keeps bullying in check–even remotely…Read More

How Owen J. Roberts School District made the remote transition

That COVID “where were you when” moment from last March is still fresh in Paul Sanfrancesco’s mind. Watching neighboring districts announce closures and realizing his own faculty would be stranded at home, contingency plans were hatched and devices were launched to prep students for remote learning.

And while no one could have been completely prepared for what has since developed, schools in the Owen J. Roberts School District (OJRSD) were already using several learning management tools that eased the transition. They also continue to learn new techniques and strategies as all schools everywhere move into the unknown.

Sanfrancesco is Director of Technology for OJRSD. The district, located in northern Chester County, Pennsylvania, comprises five elementary schools, one middle school, and the Owen J. Roberts High School. The student population for the entire district is around 4,800 students. Sanfrancesco teaches as a professor in the Graduate Education Department at Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, PA and Neumann University, Aston, PA. He was named CTO of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communications and Technology and one of the “20 to Watch” educators by the National School Boards Association for his work in IT.…Read More

The growing role CTOs play in advancing K-12 education

The demand for K-12 school districts to implement technology that drives smarter decision-making for teachers and administrators has never been greater. However, given the demands facing school districts today, technology decisions often make their way to the collective back burner.

A chief technology officer’s (CTO) role centers on aligning technology strategies to an organization’s business objectives, but the position takes on different challenges and importance when it comes to connecting technology strategies to student performance.

Connecting technology to performance
The CTO position in K-12 is becoming more prevalent in the United States. In a 2017 study by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), 53 percent of technology leaders held senior-level titles (CTO, CIO, district technology director), as opposed to 43 percent in 2012.…Read More

5 things changing today’s CTO role

During ISTE 2016, a panel of CTOs and educators examined how changes in today’s schools and technologies are impacting the role of the traditional CTO

Chief technology officers (CTOs) in school districts juggle any number of demands relating to IT support, technology integration into classroom instruction, and future district technology plans. But as technology changes, and as the needs of students and teachers change, so does the role of the CTO.

A panel of CTOs, ed-tech specialists, and educators at ISTE 2016 in Denver, moderated by Jeremy Shorr, the director of innovation and education technology in Ohio’s Mentor Public Schools, explored some of the challenges that come along with those changes and shared their best practices for ensuring that technology continues to meet the needs of teaching and learning throughout those changes.

Blended learning…Read More

Top 5 IT and technology trends for 2016

Libraries, connectivity, and more are big issues for IT professionals

tech-trends

Chief technology officers and IT professionals in the K-12 field have a lot on their collective plates these days, what with the continued proliferation of technology in their schools, new governmental programs and compliance requirements, and the push to effectively integrate their technology in the classroom. Here are five key trends that CTOs will be watching and reacting to in 2016:

The modernized E-rate program. Since it was established 18 years ago, the E-rate program has focused on connecting schools and libraries to the internet. Now, the FCC’s Second E-rate Modernization Order (adopted December 2014) will address the connectivity gap — particularly in rural areas — maximize high-speed connectivity purchasing options, extend the program’s budget through 2019, and increase the E-rate funding cap to $3.9 billion. Keith R. Krueger, CEO at CoSN – the Consortium for School Networking, said the fact that the modernized E-rate hones in on broadband and more robust networks is a net positive for K-12 IT departments and their CTOs. “Many networks for learning were designed under scarcity, and by managing bandwidth and telling people what they can’t do,” Krueger explained. “Now, we may be able to flip the conversation and look at what it takes to enable the learning that we truly envision.”…Read More

FCC’s plan to reclassify internet has big K-12 impact

FCC commissioner seeks to protect the open internet, opening new broadband access opportunities for K-12

fcc-internetFCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is proposing clear, sustainable, enforceable rules to preserve and protect the open Internet as a place for innovation and free expression. According to an FCC Fact Sheet the common-sense proposal would replace, strengthen, and supplement FCC rules struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit more than one year ago.

“An open Internet allows consumers to access the legal content and applications that they choose online, without interference from their broadband network provider,” the fact sheet states. “It fosters innovation and competition by ensuring that new products and services developed by entrepreneurs aren’t blocked or throttled by Internet service providers putting their own profits above the public interest. An open Internet allows free expression to blossom without fear of an Internet provider acting as a gatekeeper. And it gives innovators predictable rules of the road to deliver new products and services online.”

Evan Marwell, CEO of San Francisco-based EducationSuperHighway, says Chairman Wheeler’s proposals to protect the open internet include one key provision that will be very helpful to any school district or library that is working to bring fiber to their buildings. That is, by “ensuring fair access to poles and conduits under section 224,” the proposed rules will make it much simpler and more cost effective for school districts to obtain the rights of way they will need for fiber construction.…Read More