Tuesday, November 1, 2016

CCS WiFi Network Info

At Cozad Community Schools, we use our WiFi networks to provide access to staff, students, and guests.  This post is meant to help you to understand which networks you can and should access.


The following networks are currently or will be available:

CCS Mobile

  • Password protected (ask a teacher or fellow student if you need the password)
  • Currently can access printers and file services and shares
  • All students and staff and any guests with the password can connect
  • Since our access points were updated on October 26, the previous connection problems with this network seem to be fixed.
  • This network will be removed in the next few weeks

CCS Public

  • Open network (no password required)
  • Provides full internet access, but no access to printers or other internal services
  • Suitable for students, guests and teachers who only need internet access
  • Easiest network connection for personal devices
  • This network replaces CCS Mobile and all previous guest networks
  • This network is available from 6 AM to 10 PM

CCS Private

  • Coming soon!
  • Provides full internet access, along with internal services such as printing and access to file shares.
  • Will require that you log in with your Active Directory account.  This is the same account you use to log into PowerSchool, Schoology, eBackpack, etc.
  • While students can connect to this network, there is no reason to do so unless you need to print (Note: printing is not allowed from personal student devices or iPads).  
  • Teachers should choose this network for their work computers and iPads

CCS Event

  • This is a special network for athletic and activities events
  • Intended for STRIV, media and statisticians
  • The password is only available through permission from the administration

CCS_Lunch

  • This special network is only available in the HS commons for the lunch computers
  • Other than lunch computers, students and staff are not allowed on this network


Friday, September 23, 2016

Personal Data Security

Whether you use a Yahoo account or not, the news that Yahoo was breached by hackers nearly two years ago and that 500 million accounts are at risk is a reminder that we all need to pay closer attention to our personal security.

My concern here is all of our personal accounts, not school accounts.  We all have an increasing amount of personal data tied into multiple accounts that we use and become more reliant upon each day.

Because of where we live, we don't have to worry that much about physical security.  But if you lived in a rough neighborhood where break-ins and assaults were common, we would all raise our level of concern.  We'd make sure we had really good locks on our doors, we'd never leave our cars unlocked, and we might even hook one of those cool chains to our wallets.

The point is, the internet is a rough neighborhood and we really don't have a choice about living there.  Is it is worth the "cost" (of time and convenience, not money) to put better locks on your house?

At a minimum, we should all do these things...



  • Do not use the same password or even slight variations for multiple services.  That is a hacker's dream!  If I get one of your sites, I have them all!  Especially do not use the same passwords at work that you use for personal stuff.

Of course, the problem is that it's very inconvenient to use different passwords for all the accounts we have.  The only realistic solution is to use a password manager.  You don't need to be a tech-geek to use one, but you do need to invest a little bit of time in setting up a password manager and seeing how it works for you.  The two main advantages of a password manager are that your passwords will be much more secure and that you will not have to remember them.

  • Change your passwords fairly regularly (every few months or once a year), especially if you have the slightest suspicion that something "funny" is going on with one or more of your accounts.  This is where your time investment in a password manager pays off, it makes this process much easier and more practical.

  • Enable multi-factor authentication for any account that has access to sensitive information.  This simple strategy will foil anyone who gets your password!  It's pretty easy to use, and it's like adding a second, blast-proof door to your home.  



Let Patty or me know if you'd like more information or to visit with us about personal data security.  We'd be happy to provide demonstrations, recommendations, or workshops to help everyone increase their personal safety and data security.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Start of year with CHS student devices

One of the changes for all of us heading into the 16-17 school year is the student device program for CHS.  Most students will still have iPads, but about 25% chose the BYOD option.  Some of those students will likely bring iPads, but some will also bring laptops or possibly even chromebooks.

We'd like to avoid technology disruptions in your classroom as much as possible.  Teachers, please do not feel that you need to solve technical issues for your students.  In general, Patty and I will be available to provide student help as quickly as possible, especially in the first few weeks, but keep in mind that we may not be able to get everyone right away.  Please keep this in mind as you plan your lessons for the first few days.

Some students have not picked up their new devices and may be using an old device, or they may not have a device right away.  For the first week or so, we will NOT get students their new device before school or during class time!  We will be available after school to work with the students in completing their paperwork and picking up the device they leased from us.

Basic information you can provide to students:

WiFi:  CCS Mobile, the password is always Cozad789.  To avoid confusion, I've disabled the guest network.  Any networks "seen" other than CCS Mobile are NOT school networks.  Connecting to other networks (usually residential networks from neighbors, but could also be hotspots from student phones) may give students internet access, but they should NOT be connecting to any WiFi network other than CCS Mobile.

Keep in mind that some student-owned devices may have cellular network access just as phones do, and that most phones today can be used as mobile hotspots.  Be aware that ONLY the school network is filtered.  We recommend that your classroom rules explicitly prohibit the use of networks other than CCS Mobile.

Where to get help.  In general, Patty will work with iPad issues, and I'll handle everything else, but this is not a hard and fast rule.  For the first few days, we will both be available before school in Patty's office area.  Feel free to let students know where both of our offices are.


  • You are welcome to send students to us for help during your class time if that is what you prefer, but this is not required.  Students can see us before and after school if you do not want them to leave your classroom or miss time with you.
  • You are welcome to help students with devices, but this is not something you are required to do!  Again, our goal is to minimize disruptions for you.  If students have problems, send them our way or inform them that they should see us before or after school.  If a student's device is not functioning, you may have to pair them with another student or provide an alternate means of participation.  
  • Students may provide the most effective help to each other.  Don't be afraid to ask other students to help out.
  • If it fits within your classroom rules and with your permission, students may use their phone.
  • These issues should diminish as we get into the year, but it is likely there will be problems at first.
  • If you prefer, feel free to submit a helpdesk on behalf of the student, or you can email us.  We get notified right away when a ticket is submitted.  The link for submitting a helpdesk is located on our school webpage under Staff-Requests.  Students are welcome to submit tickets as well.
Thank you for help and patience as we make the adjustments in the device program this year!

Dave and Patty


Thursday, August 11, 2016

CHS Library Computers for 2016-17

Computers for student and class use will be available through the CHS library.  These will include 14 laptops with all of the latest adobe software and Office2016 installed.  These are the larger format laptops from DakTech.

There will also be at least 10 Lenovo Laptops.  These are not the small x120e model, but the larger T410 computers which many staff still use.  These computers will have Acrobat and Office2016 installed, but do not include the full Adobe suite.  

Teachers should confer with each other and plan with Ms. Osborn for use of these computers.  They may be removed from the lab during class, with permission.  Please make sure than when they are returned, they are reconnected to the charger.  There will be spare chargers available for the Lenovo computers, as some of those batteries do not last long.  There are no spare chargers for the DakTech computers.

For login purposes, students may use their own account, or they may choose to log in with one of the generic student accounts (grade9, grade10, grade11, or grade12).  The generic account password is Cozad123.

One advantage to students in using their own account is that they have server space to save their files (Z: drive).  This is true with the generic accounts as well, but the Z: drive is accessible to anyone else who uses that account.  If your students need to save files locally, they should log in with their own accounts and use the Z: drive.

Students may log into Chrome, but be sure to remind them to log out when they are done, particularly if they are using a generic account!  

Also keep in mind that while google drive sync is installed on teacher computers, students do not have this, so if they want to save files to their google drive, they will need to manually upload them.

Please contact Ms. Osborn for more information on the use of these computers.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

CHS student iPad Check-in

CHS student iPad check-in for students who will not be keeping their iPads for the summer will be in the hallway by Mr. Vincent's room, during homeroom on Wednesday afternoon!


Juniors will be called first, followed by sophomores, and then freshmen.  Students who chose a lease option and who have completed their paperwork and turned in their protection fee money will NOT go through iPad check in.

Before you can officially check out of school, you need to turn in your iPad and equipment, and take care of any technology fees that are due.  To make sure your check-out process goes smoothly, please review the following information:

Ms. Wolfe and Mr. Evertson will be checking in iPads Wednesday during home room in the hallway by Mr. Vincent's room.  We will NOT sign for check-in unless ALL of the following conditions are met:

  1. Be sure you have a current backup BEFORE Wednesday.
  2. Turn off "Find my iPad" (Settings-iCloud)
  3. Reset the iPad by choosing to erase all content and settings (Settings-General-Reset-Erase all Content and Settings).
  4. You must turn in a charger (or pay $15) and cable (or pay $10).
  5. You must turn in your school-issued case, if you have one.  
  6. Your iPad must be in good repair.  You must pay $85 if your iPad is need of repair, unless you have NOT had a repair yet this school year.  If you have not used your free repair for 2015-16, we will take your damaged iPad and there will be no fee.

When we have your iPad, charger & cable, and you have paid any fees due, we will sign your check-out slip.

If we run out of time during home room on Wednesday, the check-in process will continue after the state track send-off on Thursday morning.  Students will be called by name to the hallway to complete their technology check-in.


Please let us know if you have any questions.

Thanks, and have a great summer!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Tech End of Year Procedures

As you close out the year and clean out your rooms, please refer to the following regarding technology items.


  • All Staff with assigned computers and/or iPads.
    • Computers, iPads and peripherals
      • If you will not be returning to the district next year, please return your computer, chargers, adapters, any peripherals, and your iPad to Patty at the HS office. There are several things you need to do with your iPad, and Patty needs to make sure these things are done or we may have problems with your iPad in the future.
        • Do a backup of your ipad (settings--icloud--backup--backup now)
        • Remove any passcode lock on the device (settings--passcode--turn off)
        • SHUT OFF FIND MY IPAD (IMPORTANT!!!!)--(Settings--icloud--Find my ipad--turn off)
        • Erase device (Settings--General--Reset--Erase All Content and data)
        • Turn in iPad, Charger, Case & Keyboard (if applicable)
        • Your computer does not need to be "cleaned up" because it will be wiped out and configured from scratch.
      • For returning staff, please store your computer, accessories, and iPad securely or take them home with you. For computers, keep in mind that there are always new updates being released, and if it is not on and connected over the summer, it will be very slow until updates are completed when your return in the fall.
      • Except for libraries, labs and your teacher computer, please turn any extra computers into the library or office of your building. If you have need for extra computers next year, please let me know by sending an email request and I will do my best to accommodate you, but ALL computers need updates so please turn them all in.
      • Be sure to secure adapters and remotes for overheads and other AV equipment, etc.


    • Student iPads (Elementary)
      • Place chargers and cables from your home room in the appropriate boxes in your room.
      • EL student iPads - Please make sure you have your students do the following:
        • Power down the ipad (make sure it is off, not just asleep)
        • Make sure the iPad is labeled with the student's name.
        • Place class iPads in box or grade-level cart. These iPads will be returned to the student next school year.

  • Classified staff with no computer or iPad
    • If you will NOT be returning...
      • Your email (Google) account will be suspended after your last day. Please make sure that you have forwarded any important messages to a private account.
    • If you are returning, please make note of your account and password so you can use it next year.  There will be occasional important announcements set out via email, so it is best if you can check periodically over the summer.

  • All staff: Accounts and e storage
    • eBackpack files you wish to save need to be moved to My Files, ePortfolio, or downloaded and placed in google drive.
    • Schoology accounts will NOT be deleted, nor will resources be removed. We have not yet determined the status of Schoology for next year, but we will update teachers as more information is available.
    • Google drive - Any files (such as those stored on the desktop) not in google drive should be moved or copied to your google drive folder. This is the only place which provides backup protection for your files.

    • Departing staff
      • Your Google Apps account will be suspended after your final day. If you need more time, please contact Dave in his office or at dave.evertson@cozadschools.net to make those arrangements.  
      • If you have files you need to take with you, use Google Takeout to archive old data.  Google search for “How to archive my google apps data” for instructions, or follow this video.  You might also find this blog post helpful.
      • Create a folder in your google drive for replacement staff if you would like to leave files for them.  Ownership of ALL remaining files in your account will be transferred to them when your account is disabled.  You will want to delete all files (after archiving with Google Takeout) that you do not wish to transfer.  DO NOT DELETE THESE FILES FROM YOUR COMPUTER!!! You should only delete Google drive files through the browser. If you have questions about this, please contact Dave or Patty before you begin deleting.
      • Make sure you change your email on your Apple ID if it is set to your current school account.



If you have any questions, please contact Patty or Dave.  

Have a great summer!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Senior Seminar--Preparing Your Online Presence

As our seniors prepare to leave high school and continue their journeys, we had the opportunity to share some "last minute" tips and reminders to help them on their way. I had the opportunity to visit with all seniors about the importance of their online presence as they leave high school to pursue their passions. We discussed the importance of promoting themselves online and creating a positive online network with others that share their career paths, goals, and passions. We also discussed that now is the perfect time to do some "digital dusting" and clean up their social media. Many students have old accounts to services they haven't used and they should remove those. In today's society, their digital footprint is as important as their resume. In addition to cleaning up their online presence, they should begin thinking about creating digital portfolios and/or an about.me page.  We wish our seniors good luck as they pursue their dreams and hope you find success in the paths you are taking!

I am including my google slides to share with all of you


Monday, April 25, 2016

Student Data Liberation

Graduating seniors face many changes in the coming months.  One change will be that graduates will lose their current school-issued iPads and accounts.  Please refer to the information in this blog to help you move your important data so that you will not lose access in the coming months.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1UdLqxfRLouSAqZLgWMK5Ur8Vaki9k7BKrgoKXiSD6AM/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000

School Accounts

  • Google apps - All CCS students have a google account with many different resources associated.  You may not use all of these resources, but if you have data that you will need in the future, it is important that you have a strategy to move that data to a private account.
    • Current account is username2016@cozadschools.net
    • Accounts will be terminated on or about January 1, 2017.
    • Until termination, you will be able to log into your CCS google apps and services using your current username and password.
    • After termination, ALL data related to your account will be deleted and it cannot be recovered.
    • You will need access to a computer (not an iPad or other mobile device) to liberate your data.  Please feel free to use school computers for this purpose.  You will also need something to which you can save your data (like a usb drive, or you could save to a private dropbox account)
    • Google Takeout is the easiest way to do this.  
      • Here is a video how-to...
      • Log in with your current school account.
      • Select the format of the export file.
        • .zip is the easiest, but is limited to 2 GB (will create multiple files if you exceed 2 GB)
        • .tgz or .tbz can be larger, but may require special software to open.
      • Select the apps from which you want to export.
      • Edit the settings for each app if you don't want the defaults.
      • Select "Create Archive".  Google will create your archive files and email you when they are ready for download.  This may take many hours or days!
      • When your archive is done, you can download it to a usb drive or save in a dropbox account.  
      • After download, you can open the .zip file to pull your data out.  Docs get saved in MS office formats by default.  Mail can be imported into other mail clients.
    • Since this email address will go away, you should notify contacts as soon as you have an alternate email.
    • If you've used this email to create accounts for other services, you should update those account settings to reflect your new email account.

  • School computer/network account - You will lose access to this account around July 1.

  • eBackpack - You will lose access to this account around July 1.
    • Use a home computer to download any files you need to keep, or transfer those files to google drive before your archive.

  • iTunes/iCloud (Apple ID) - Since this is not a school-owned account, you will continue to have access to your Apple ID account.  However, you will lose access to your school email, so you should change the email address associated with your apple ID.  Here is a video that explains how to do this.  Note:  You need a private email account that you can access during this procedure.
    • Make sure you have a complete backup of your iPad before you turn it in.
    • In the future, you can restore from backup to any other iPad.
    • You can install purchased apps using this account on any other iPad.  This includes apps and books purchased for you by the school.

  • New accounts - Once you have a new account (at school, from employer, etc) you can import your old data from your archive files if needed.  You can also import google data into a private google account, if you have one.
    • Private gmail accounts are free and have all of the google apps.  Free storage is limited to 15 GB, but you can purchase more ($2 for 100 GB) if needed.
    • Organization accounts (and their data) are owned by the organization!  

  • Social media accounts
    • You should make sure your social media is "employer safe".  
      • Remove inappropriate posts, videos, etc.  
      • Check your privacy settings.
      • Remove connections to others who post inappropriate content.
      • Imagine an employer viewing all of your posts!
Need help or have questions?  
  • Mr. Evertson - dave.evertson@cozadschools.net
  • Ms. Wolfe - patty.wolfe@cozadschools.net

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

CHS 1-1 iPad Program Changes





     At Cozad Community Schools, we believe that modern teaching and learning practices often require age-appropriate student internet access.  We strive to provide universal student access at school  in the most cost-effective and student-centered way possible.  The Apple iPad mobile device has proven to be easily managed by students and teachers, provides a versatile range of teaching and learning tools, is strongly supported in education, and has offered the most affordable path in establishing a 1-1 student device learning environment.





iPad Take-home Changes

     We recognize the importance of modern technologies in student learning.  Unfortunately, severe budget reductions mean we can no longer provide a modern, capable device to every student at CHS. Faced with losing our successful 1-1 program, we have worked to develop several affordable options for students and parents.  For the time being, our current inventory allows us to provide devices at school.  Unfortunately, we can no longer provide home use or guarantee a device for every student.

     CHS will provide iPad access to all students in 2016-17, but the devices may be shared, and will remain at school.  There will be no cost to any student electing this option, and students will not be required to provide their own device.  If necessary, the school will provide extended hours for students to complete academic work before or after school.  This is referred to as Option 1 on the device intent form.

A Home Device is Important to Our Students

     Over 90% of our students surveyed tell us that it is important to them to have access to their learning outside of school.  We very much agree, but we also recognize that not all of our families have suitable devices or can afford to purchase devices for their CHS students through normal retail channels.  For this reason, we have worked to develop affordable purchasing and leasing options so that each student may have the opportunity to have exclusive use of a device and be able to take it home.  CHS will not require any student to purchase or lease a device.  As explained above, should the student elect to not purchase or lease a device, suitable devices will be provided at school.

     Should the student or parent wish to purchase or lease a device for individual use, we are excited to be able to provide affordable iPad options (Options 2 and 3 on the intent form).  Through our status as an educational institution and group purchasing power, we feel these purchase or lease options offer a more cost effective opportunity than is available to consumers.  These options are available to all 2016-17 CHS students.  Please note that Option 2 is contingent upon the availability of devices currently in the school inventory.  Please also note that students may participate in only one option.

Bring Your Own Device

     Another option for students is to bring their own device (BYOD) to school.  This can be a current family or student-owned iPad, a laptop computer, or a Chromebook.  This is referred to as Option 4 on the device intent form.

Please Let Us Know Your Plans

     Because we can only order devices for those who we know will be leasing, we ask that you and your student complete the 2016-17 device intent form and return it to the school by Friday, April 29, 2016.  Students will receive this document electronically, and paper copies will be provided upon request.  Parents and students may complete and sign this form electronically, or a paper copy may be returned to the high school office.

Access the device intent form here


Important!  If we do not receive your signed intent form, we must assume that the student will not be participating in the lease programs.  We cannot guarantee that devices will be available for lease at a later date!


Questions?  

Student Meetings:

  • Juniors - Thursday, April 7 during home room
  • Sophomores - Monday, April 11 during home room
  • Freshmen - Wednesday, April 13 during home room

Parent Meetings:

  • Thursday, April 14, 6:30 PM - CHS Auditorium
  • Wednesday, April 27, 6:30 PM - CHS Auditorium



Contact us...

Dave Evertson - Technology Director
  • dave.evertson@cozadschools.net
  • 308-784-2746
Patty Wolfe - Technology Integration/iPad Coordinator
  • patty.wolfe@cozadschools.net
  • 308-784-2744
Bill Beckenhauer - HS Principal
  • bill.beckenhauer@cozadschools.net
  • 308-784-2744


Monday, April 4, 2016

NETA Conference

Updated Itinerary

Wednesday, 4/20/16:
  • Depart from West HS parking lot (2 vans) no later than 4 PM.
  • Arrive Chances R in York approx 6 PM.
  • Depart York approx 7:00 PM
  • Arrive at Courtyard Marriot approx 9 PM
Thursday, 4/21/16:
  • Conference Schedule Overview
  • Please take notes, pictures, etc. and be prepared to share your workshop experiences and resources with other staff when we return!
  • Breakfast on your own.
  • Final session ends at 4:15, we can dine or go out together as each chooses.
Friday, 4/22/16:
  • Breakfast on your own.
  • 7:45 AM - Load luggage in vans.  Don't forget to keep a change of clothes if you prefer for the trip back. 
  • Final session ends at 4:15, meet in Meet in hotel lobby for departure.
  • We will stop for gas on the way home, possibly at the Aurora interchange where you can pick up a meal or snack.
  • Arrive in Cozad approx 8 - 9 PM.
  • We ask that each attendee post a reflection or summary of their conference experience here as a way to share thoughts and resources with others.  Please have this done by Friday, April 29.  Links to other resources are welcome!

NETA 2016 Conference Program

We are excited to have 8 staff members attending the Nebraska Educational Technology Association conference in Omaha April 23 and 24, 2015.  Those attending the conference are:

Elementary

  • Teresa Barnett - Second Grade
  • Theresa Lemmer - Fourth Grade

Middle School

  • Barry Mraz - Social Studies
  • Carly Rexing - Math

High School

  • Logan Morris - English

District

  • Patty Wolfe - Tech Integration (Presenter and NETA board member)
  • Dave Evertson - Tech Administration (Presenter)

Information for Attendees

NETA is a large conference and there will be several thousand attendees from all across the state.  We will be staying at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Omaha, and the conference is moving this year to the CenturyLink Center.  There will be a lot more space!


Hotel Information


Departure & Return

  • We will depart at approximately 4 PM from the East parking lot of the High School.  We will be traveling as a group in one large school van.  You may arrange your own travel if you wish, but the district will not reimburse travel expenses.
  • We will return immediately after the end of the conference (approximately 4:30 PM) on Friday.  We should arrive back in Cozad by 8 or 9 PM.

Meals

  • All attendees will receive a $62 cash meal per Diem at departure time.  That probably won't cover all of your meals, so you may want to bring some extra cash.  No other meal expenses will be covered by the district.
  • For those traveling with the group in school vehicles, we will stop in York at Chances R for Dinner on Wednesday evening.  If you are providing your own transportation, please feel free to join us!  Time will be at approximately 6 PM.
  • Lunch - You can purchase lunch from vendors at the conference (kind of pricey) or you may walk off-site to the many downtown options available.  There is no lunch break, sessions run from the keynote at 8:30 through the end of the final session at 4:15.  If you are going off-site for lunch, you'll have to miss a session.
  • Dinner - We will go to dinner together as a group on Thursday evening (optional).  All are welcome!  We will not be stopping for a formal dinner on the return trip Friday, but will likely stop for gas some place where you can get a meal or snack.  

Dress

  • While you will see some people dressed in jeans and shorts at the conference, we ask that you dress professionally, as you would at school.  Please remember that you are representing our entire school district.
  • Note that we will need to check out of our rooms on Friday morning.  Plan to take your bags to the vehicle before Friday's keynote.
  • If you plan to change to jeans or something more comfortable for the trip home, plan ahead and carry a bag with a change of clothes on Friday.  It's difficult to find the person with the keys during the conference, so don't plan to be able to get to your bags in the vehicle.

Keynotes and sessions

  • Conference Schedule & Map
  • Each day begins with a keynote, and everyone is expected to attend.  There will be one large keynote session at 8:30 each morning.  There should be a lot more space this year.  We do not all have to sit together as a group, but you might save seats for a few if you have made arrangements ahead of time.  You will want to be in the hall early if you want a good seat. 
  • After the keynote, sessions begin at 10:30 and run every hour until 4:30.
  • Please look over the session descriptions ahead of time and plan which you might like to attend.  This year NETA is using a program called SCHED.  You should have received an email about this.  If you don't already have a login, please create one.  This looks like a great tool for planning your conference experience.
  • Session room locations should be easier to find this year.  The map printed in your conference guide will help.  There are many volunteers who will be happy to guide you as well.

Technology

  •  You may bring your iPad, computer, phone or all three.  You will receive a bag during registration with the conference guide and many other flyers and goodies, but I usually carry a backpack.  Note that charging a device during the day is difficult, so you may want to leave your computer at home.
  • Some prefer paper and pen for notes.  If you are looking for good note-taking apps, I personally recommend Evernote, but there are many others.  Whatever your preference, you should plan on being able to take notes without a WiFi connection (so a google doc is probably not the best choice).
  • WiFi is available in the conference center all day, but there are thousands of people connecting multiple devices, so don't plan on speedy internet!
  • Etiquette dictates that each person limit the number of devices they connect to the WiFi.  Please stick with just a single device on the WiFi network.

Post-conference

  • We ask that each attendee post a reflection or summary of their conference experience here as a way to share thoughts and resources with others.  Please have this done by Friday, May 2nd.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Staff BYOD Technology Program

The Cozad Community Schools Board has approved the implementation of a VOLUNTARY program in which certified staff may use their own computer and/or mobile device for work and receive reimbursement over three years to cover the cost.

If you are interested in participating in this program, please review the information below, and print and sign the appropriate agreement (links below).  Please return the agreement to the technology department, your building principal, or to the district office.  You may submit the signed agreement via email if you prefer.

Next steps:

  1. After you print and sign the agreement to participate, pick out the computer or iPad you plan to purchase and send the quote or information to me for approval.  A web link, saved cart, or advertisement is sufficient.  You may even just email me what you are thinking and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.  I don't need an official document or anything, we just want to make sure you are getting a capable device.  Any new Mac or iPad will be approved.  There is much more variability in PCs, so please check with me first if you plan to purchase a Windows PC.
  2. Once we approve your device, you may make the purchase.  Be sure to save your receipt!
  3. Submit your signed agreement with the receipt to the district office and they will set up payroll reimbursement, which will begin with your September paycheck and continue for 36 months, unless you leave the district before that time.
Keep in mind that the reimbursement will be for the device only, and will not cover extended warranties or protection plans, cases, keyboards, etc.  The maximum reimbursement is capped at $1500 for computers, and at $400 for iPads.  You may spend more than that on the device, but you will only be reimbursed up to that amount.


The basics of the program:

As a certified staff member, you select a NEW device that will be used for both personal and work purposes for the next 3 years.  The minimum specifications:

  • Computers:  Mac or PC core i5 or above processor, 4 GB of RAM, and dual WiFi radio ("ac" WiFi is recommended).  With the exception of the WiFi radio, almost any new computer retailing for $800 or above will meet these specifications.  
  • iPad:  iPad Air (about $330 on Amazon), iPad mini 2 ($279) or better.
    • Apple has discontinued the iPad Air, but it can still be purchased through Amazon, WalMart, etc.
    • We have no minimum requirements for iPads for teachers, but we do recommend the iPad Air 2 with 64 GB ($479) if you are purchasing new, as student devices will be transitioning to this in the future, and some Apple Education features will require this as a minimum.
    • The iPad Pro is the next level up (starting at $579)
Please send me your selection, quote, or cart for final approval.

Once the purchase is approved by the tech department, you would make your purchase and submit a copy of the receipt for this computer to either the tech department, your building principal, or the district office.  The payroll office will then set up a 36 month reimbursement plan to be included in equal installments in your monthly payroll.

The maximum reimbursement limit will be $1500 for computers and $400 for iPads.  You may elect to spend more, but you will only be reimbursed up to that amount.  If you spend less, you will be reimbursed for the entire purchase price.

You will be the owner of the device and will be financially responsible for loss, damage and repairs.  You may want to consider extended warranty plans to cover all three years, but that is optional.

The district will provide necessary software and technical support related to school issues.

We will maintain spare devices as loaners in case yours is being repaired or replaced.

The program will be voluntary.  If you would prefer to have the school issue you a device, we would do that just as we have in the past.

If you leave the district before the end of your 3 year cycle, you will of course keep the device, but the district will not provide the remaining reimbursement.

Once you enter the program, you are not eligible to renew that device for a period of three years.  You also agree to use the BYOD device as your school device, and we will no longer issue you a school-owned comparable device.

You will be bound by FERPA, the Responsible Use Agreement and public equipment use laws while using the school network or resources.  You would not be bound by this agreement for private use.  For example, the law prohibits using school resources for your own, for-profit business ventures.  You currently are not allowed to conduct such business on your school-issued computer, no matter if you are at work or at home.  If you participate in this program, you could conduct personal business on your computer, as long as you did not use the school network or contracted time to do so.

The school will continue to provide accessories necessary for work.  For example, if you need an adapter to connect to the projector in your room, the district will provide that, but it would be the property of the district.

The district will not reimburse you for home accessories or those not required for work.  Examples are printers, larger monitors, external keyboard and mouse, etc.  The district will also not provide home networking equipment or support.

Reimbursement is a taxable benefit, and you should maintain records so that you can apply for deductions based on work-use of your computer when you complete your tax return.

To participate, please print and sign this agreement, and indicate if it is for a computer or an iPad (you are allowed to do both).  You must complete a separate agreement for each device.  If you're already participating, you are NOT required to complete another agreement.  Return your signed and dated agreement to the tech department or the district office, along with your receipt.

 Please feel free to send questions or comments via email, or by using the comment feature below.

Thanks,

Dave

Monday, February 15, 2016

CCS Technology Budget Plan

With our looming budget difficulties, we've tried to create a three year plan with the following objectives:

1.  Preserve existing programs that directly impact teaching and learning.
2.  Eliminate as much spending as possible for the remainder of this year.
3.  Eliminate as much spending as possible for 16-17.
4.  Transition to a stable budget which is more sustainable from 17-18 and beyond.

You may view the current technology budget proposal here.

Steps to preserve cash for 2015-16

  • Freeze current expenditures as much as possible
  • Eliminate the ISTE 2016 conference in Denver for Innovation Team members.
  • Savings of approximately $8000

Steps to reduce spending for 2016-17

  • Freeze spending on student devices
  • Freeze spending on teacher devices
  • Transition HS to BYOD 
  • We hope to resume ISTE for Innovation Team members in 2017
  • Savings of approximately $163,000

Steps to reduce spending for 2017-18 and beyond

  • Maintain iPad program grades 1-8, resuming 4 year refresh cycle
  • Resume teacher device replacement
  • Annual savings compared to now of approximately $88,000 

Recommendation to administration for savings outside of technology budget

  • Eliminate unneeded telephone lines and reduce long distance calls by using Google tools (free long distance in the US) - Potential savings of $10,000 per year.
  • Reduce printing by 50% - Potential savings of $5000 per year

A Few Basics of Public School Finance in Nebraska

There's been a lot of discussion among staff and students about what caused our current budget shortfall.  I wanted to better understand how this happens, and a quick Google search led me to the following resources which I found informative:

http://www.openskypolicy.org/opensky-releases-k-12-funding-report (download the report they provide.)

http://www.nasbonline.org/ConferenceHandouts/2012/A6.pdf (This is a presentation from a few years back about how school finance works, specifically for Lincoln Public Schools, but the same concepts apply to every school.)

I want to point out that I have not familiarized myself with the actual, overall budget numbers for Cozad Community Schools, and that I am not referring to our district's specific budget.  Nor am I speaking for any administrator or the board of education itself.  I'm merely trying to share my understanding of how these major adjustments in state aid work.

Every public school in Nebraska has two main sources of revenue:  local property tax and state equalization aid.  Add a smaller amount of federal funds and all the other miscellaneous receipts the school collects, and you have the total income for a given year.  To keep things simple, I am ignoring the federal funds and miscellaneous receipts.

Local property tax income is pretty straight-forward, and most of us understand how that works.  School income from this source is based on the land valuation in the district and the rate at which the district taxes.

State aid is more complicated, but it is meant to "equalize" the resources available for districts to spend on services for their students.  This is necessary because some districts have more land value and/or lower need than others.  The basic idea is that state aid allows relatively poor districts to provide the same level of funding for student services as districts which have greater local resources available.

At a basic level, equalization aid is calculated by subtracting the amount of local funding resources from the calculated "needs" to run the school.  Equalization aid makes up the difference.  A district with relatively high land values and relatively low need does not receive much state aid.  A relatively poor district with a larger number of students has greater needs, and receives more state aid.

Of course, land valuations can change, and in fact the valuations in our district went up significantly two years ago.  According to the formula, when local resources increase, state aid decreases.  This seems pretty straight-forward, but in reality there are other complicating factors and it is not so easy to predict by local boards and superintendents.

The important thing to note is that the state does all the calculating and then they inform the districts in January what their upcoming state aid will be.  This has to be a fixed number so that districts can set their budgets and tax rates for the upcoming year.  However, the numbers used in the calculations come from the actual values from the previous year (the real numbers are only known for sure once the year is over).

The problem is that when valuations change, it takes a year for the formula to catch up.  This means that if valuations increase, state aid is likely to be higher than it should be in the next year.  The real problem comes in the following year, because in this case, the state aid payment is not only lower, it is also reduced by the amount of the over-payment in the year before.  This of course can lead to rather extreme changes in state aid from one year to the next.

Again, I want to point out that this post is not based on any actual numbers for our district and that school finance is really much more complicated than I've represented here.  I'm just trying share what I've learned at a basic level about how public education funding works in Nebraska and how that relates to the complicated business of school funding and budgets.


Data Procedures for Departing Staff