Source: Sherman Publications

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District outsources tech support services

by Susan Bromley

November 23, 2011

Brandon Twp.- Eric Lott openly admits he was ready to play spoilsport when asked to be on a committee to examine outsourcing technology support services for the school district.

The Brandon High School computer teacher joined several administrators for a trip to Ohio to see how VARtek, a company based in Dayton, has assisted a school district in maintaining and updating their technology.

"My plan was to tell why we don't need VARtek," said Lott during the Nov. 21 school board meeting. "But... I completely changed my opinion. I was blown away by their efficiency and very impressed... They have a staff of experts and by hiring that team of experts, I don't think Bill Gates (of Microsoft fame) could lead a team of three to four and have the knowledge we will."

The board appears to agree, unanimously voting to have Superintendent Lorrie McMahon enter contract talks with VARtek for technology support services. She estimates the district will negotiate with VARtek a contract of a little more than $400,000, equal to what the district pays now for in-house technology support. The district would eliminate the position of executive director of technology, currently held by Paul Spoor, if the contract is approved. No other jobs would be eliminated, McMahon said— with VARtek expected to hire two of the current tech employees and the district would continue to employ Gina Price, who works in instructional technology.

"We are looking forward to working with VARtek," said McMahon. "The reason we have pursued this is, they bring expertise that we can't possibly have under the best circumstances within our district. 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."

If a contract is approved, 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.