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Board opts for VARtek Services



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December 21, 2011 - Brandon Twp.- School board members voted 6-1 at their Dec. 19 meeting to contract with VARtek Services, Inc. for technology support services. Board Vice-President Kevin McClellan voted no, citing concern over a lack of companies providing similar services with which to compare.

"In five years, I believe that we will have many more alternatives for technology support, but right now we don't," said Superintendent Lorrie McMahon. "It is a market that currently is untapped."

The contract with VARtek will cost the district approximately $481,000 annually and will cover all maintenance to existing technology equipment, including daily oversight ensuring that all technology runs smoothly. The contract expires June 30, 2017.

District administrators began researching privatization of techology support services more than a year ago. McMahon consulted with Oakland Schools, Inacomp, Dell and James Martin Enterprises, but none could meet the needs of the district. VARtek, which is based in Dayton, Ohio, was the only company, she said, who could offer what the district sought at a price comparable to what the district was paying for in-house services.

"The reason we have pursued this is, (VARtek) brings expertise that we can't possibly have under the best circumstances within our district," McMahon said. "They will maintain day-to-day operations, will offer a solid process for what to do with any breakdowns, and will guide us in using new technology and staying current. Our district has invested a lot in technology and we need to make sure we stay at the forefront."

Administrators and two teachers traveled to Ohio this fall to visit a district that uses VARtek's services and came away impressed.

The district will eliminate the position of executive director of technology, previously held by Paul Spoor. No other jobs will be eliminated, McMahon said. VARtek is expected to hire two of the current tech employees and the district will continue to employ Gina Price, who works in instructional technology.

A VARtek employee will remain on site in the school district for about three to six months. Afterward, most support will be offered online. McMahon said savings come from districts sharing the costs of research and development by VARtek.

"Classrooms have changed so much in only a few years," McMahon said. "Our students learn differently and our teachers teach differently. Content has increased and skills with technology can make a great difference in success. Brandon School District is dedicated to quality education and quality technology is a big part of that."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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