Duval County School District Budget: Technology Is A Priority

May 15, 2018

The Duval County school district is continuing to prioritize technology this upcoming school year.

District IT Director Jim Culbert presented his department’s plan for technology at Tuesday’s school board workshop.

The Duval school district has struggled with finding the dollars to keep up with replacing computers as the district provides more in classrooms. Just over a year ago, former superintendent Nikolai Vitti had recommended the district apply for a $52 million federal bond for the purpose, but board members weren’t sold.

Culbert said Tuesday the district has been able to maintain student-to-computer ratios of 1.75 high school students to a computer, one-to-one in middle schools and one-to-two in elementary schools.

School laptops have about a five-year lifespan. Culbert said the district is getting about 18,000 new ones next year. He added that lifecycle management of computers is the biggest area of concern.

The district has been making some money back for technology by selling its old computers to students for $50-$300 depending on the model. Last school year 6,500 were sold.

Board Chair Paula Wright said she’s ecstatic about the upcoming technology plan.

“We understand that in order to prepare our students to compete in this global world, technology is a necessity,” Wright said. “It is a must-have.”

The district is planning to save dollars by having in-house developers work on the district’s OneView portal system instead of outsourcing to Microsoft.

Culbert presented some data about Duval compared to other large districts around the country. Duval ranks eighth out of 45 districts that reported their average age of computers and 11th of 25 districts that reported their average IT spending per student. Duval also ranked high on the list for computer-to-student and -teacher ratios.

On the other hand, Culbert said he’s worried about a number of key IT personnel retiring in the near future. He said the district is working on developing cross-training opportunities.

Culbert told board members he’s planning to soon bring a new student identification system back in front of the board for consideration. Last year, board members were asked to consider it, but voted to hold off on implementing it due to funding concerns.

Students would scan the cards for lunch, when they get to each class or on the bus, and to check out textbooks. The technology is the same used for hotel keys.

Photo used under Creative Commons.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.