HD85 - Technology Needs of Local School Divisions and Guidelines for Technology Connectivity

Executive Summary:
This study was conducted by the Department of Education, in conjunction with KPMG Peat Marwick LLP, and public and private sector information technology professionals, in response to House Joint Resolution No. 176. This resolution requested the Department of Education to assess the technology needs of local school divisions and develop guidelines for technology connectivity for the public schools of Virginia.

Virginia's General Assembly, recognizing that educational technology is critical to ensuring the delivery of quality public school education throughout the commonwealth, established a variety of initiatives to support educational technology. These initiatives have addressed student-to-computer ratios, supported technology resource assistants, and automated library media centers, and have provided network capabilities, administrative hardware and software replacement and retrofitting and upgrading school buildings to accommodate today's technology. Additionally, funds exceeding $49.5 million have been made available to the public schools under the provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

The Department of Education found that virtually all school divisions and more than 90 percent of Virginia's schools have Internet connections over dedicated (non-modem) circuits capable of transmitting a large volume of information at high speed. While this connectivity is still not available to all teachers within their classrooms, school divisions are continuing to install and expand these connections and other infrastructure to improve access within school buildings and position schools and school division offices to support education initiatives for the 21st century. The Department of Education, in cooperation with public and private sector technology professionals, has developed guidelines to assist school divisions in their continued efforts.

The Department of Education recommends that Virginia school divisions continue the following initiatives:

• Implement and refine their technology plans in cooperation with school boards and county and city governments,

• Follow and adapt to rapidly changing technological advancements,

• Implement infrastructure to support future technological developments in transmission of data, voice, and video,

• Implement infrastructure to support remote communications, interconnecting all school divisions and students,

• Participate to the maximum extent possible in the benefits of the E-Rate program,

• Refine compensation programs and policies to attract and retain needed technical personnel,

• Implement hardware and software systems that are scalable and provide secure Internet access for World Wide Web-based applications, and

• Improve emphasis on training of all personnel.