Thu
Aug 28 2014
10:32 am

Joe Sullivan says in Metro Pulse that Knox County owes Knox County Schools $10 million in disputed trustee collection fees.

(In the process, he says Mayor Burchett and County Commission are "cheapskates" and accuses County Law Director Bud Armstrong of "egregious behavior," "dereliction of duty," "improprieties," and "incompetence.")

Anyway, later on he says the money should not be used for recurring expenses such as teacher raises, but rather the "one-time cost of a system-wide instructional technology initiative that would put a laptop or tablet in the hands of every student for inventive and differentiated learning."

I am unfamiliar with the concept of "one-time costs" in relation to IT projects. There's the acquisition cost (and depreciation), but then there are the training and implementation costs (initial and recurring for updates, new applications, student/staff turnover), ongoing systems and application administration, periodic software licensing, maintenance and update fees, incidental hardware repair/replacement, recurring infrastructure (network/bandwidth) costs and associated administrative overhead.

So, while lawyers sort out the fee dispute and regardless of how one feels about the appropriate use of classroom technology, there's no such thing as a "one-time" cost to implement it.

(As for "inventive and differentiated," does this kid look like he's engaged and having fun and benefiting from technology v. interaction with a real live human teacher?)

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R. Neal's picture

Plus, Sullivan says the $10

Plus, Sullivan says the $10 million would "go a long way" towards the one-time cost of putting "a laptop or tablet in the hands of every student."

Not even close.

There are about 60,000 students and 4,000 teachers. That $10 million works out to about $160 per user.

bizgrrl's picture

According to the LA Times,

According to the LA Times, The Los Angeles Unified School District is paying $768 per device, which includes some math and english educational software.

However, other school systems are spending less money, for example:

The Perris Union High School District is paying $344 apiece for a Chromebook for every student. Nearby, Riverside Unified purchased a variety of devices, including the Kindle Fire and iPad Mini, for as low as $150 each. In San Diego Unified, some students are using a $200 tablet.

Knoxoasis's picture

Or about what it would cost

Or about what it would cost to give each student a Nexus 7. I cannot understand why school systems are so insistent on Ipads, except for the long-running association Apple has had with LEAs. I still remember when the most common place to find an apple computer was in classrooms, when most of the rest of the world was running MSDOS PCs.

bizgrrl's picture

Los Angeles schools have put

Los Angeles schools have put their lofty iPad project on hold and suspended their Apple contract.

"Moving forward, we will no longer utilize our current contract with Apple Inc," Superintendent John Deasy told the district's Board of Education on Monday

"Not only will this decision enable us to take advantage of an ever-changing marketplace and technology advances, it will also give us time to take into account concerns raised surrounding the [project],"

So far, the [LA schools] district has purchased about 75,000 iPads – enough for about 15 percent of its students and teachers. About half were preloaded with the Pearson software.

The software is "glitchy" and the wi-fi network cannot handle the load.

"We’re telling the public that we’re investing in our kids," said Stuart Magruder, a member of a school district committee overseeing the use of school bond funds. "And you gotta think that all this money is really not making a difference in education.

R. Neal's picture

Here's a school system in

Here's a school system in Kentucky that bought iPads for 1250 students. "The district's school board budgeted $785,000 to start the program, plus $125,000 for recurring costs...".

Per tablet, that works out to $628 initial cost and $100 in recurring costs.

Extrapolating for Knox Co. (without considering any savings from economy of scale), that would be an initial cost of $40 million and recurring costs of $6.4 million.

Wonder how many techs/trainers/administrators you have to hire to support 64,000 users?

bizgrrl's picture

I thought it was all

I thought it was all intuitive, no training or support required. No?

Stick's picture

Gotta love it when a reporter

Gotta love it when a reporter opines on a topic about which he knows nothing. He's got the jargon down though... "inventive and differentiated learning".

(And before someone jumps in with "you should go to L&N", I've been working on a research project looking into schools with one-to-one technology (will be going international in the spring). More on that in the future, but what I'm able to share now is this: The technology is being used for traditional tasks that would look familiar to anyone who's been to a public school, and the teachers are ambivalent (some are even rather critical) about the fancy tools they've been given. For them, it's all about good pedagogy and professionalism.)

Pam Strickland's picture

Sullivan isn't a reporter.

Sullivan isn't a reporter. He's a columnist. Small difference, but nonetheless a difference. He still should be researching his topic and know what he's talking about in context. And it would be easy for someone not in the business to be confused by the nuance.

Stick's picture

Point taken. Thanks.

Point taken. Thanks.

cwg's picture

Bigger than a small difference

Just like Pam's columns - and Greg Johnson's columns - do not represent the KNS as a whole, neither do Sullivan's - or Frank Cagle's. Both Joe and Frank write opinion columns. Sometimes they deeply reported opinion columns. Sometimes they are just opinions. Sometimes they're just interesting stories. Neither is on staff.

Stick's picture

I get it...

Still, the position of public intellectual (& yes, whether you like it or not Johnson is just that) comes with social responsibility, a responsibility that is shared by the publisher of said public intellectual's musings. Most folks don't follow the intricacies of policy, and these folks have influence over others' political behavior both directly and through social networks. I find it frustrating when people with a public pedestal take it upon themselves to opine about things which they obviously know nothing and have dedicated no time to study.

Sandra Clark's picture

Missing the point

Wow -- Talk about missing the point. Joe is right about the Trustee's fee. Why are they called "fee" offices? Because they operate off fees. Who pays "fees?" We do.

So the trustees (and others) go to Nashville and lobby for increased fees in order to build a political fiefdom. Listen to the trials currently underway. Payrolls bloated with folks who don't even come to work, etc.

I supported Ed Shouse for trustee because I hope he will tighten the operation -- hire more accountants and fewer political operatives -- and let the school system keep its full allocation of taxes w/o scraping a fee off the top.

gonzone's picture

What SKB said.

What SKB said.

Roscoe Persimmon's picture

Los Angeles Unified School District is not a good example

80 percent of their students are at or below the poverty level, the busses unload more and more poor kids and impoverished families into their district every day.

There are enough programs floating through Knox County Schools now, iPads are given out at AE, with no clue whether or not the device has a wireless internet connection at home, free MacBook Pros given out at Bearden, again with little to no detail as to whether or not the computer will be fully utilized or if its merely give away, thinking that it is education in disguise.

Bbeanster's picture

Just want to point out that

Just want to point out that Metro Pulse owes its existence to Joe Sullivan. i cannot imagine the amount of money he poured into it from 1992-2003, but it was formidable. Easily into seven figures.

He may be shaky on the technology piece, but Sandra's right that Joe's right. The trustee's fee is a scam and anybody who knows county government knows it.

We had a chance to reform the courthouse and the same crowd that subsequently voted in Clarence Eddie and Ailor turned it down.

cwg's picture

In any case

iPad/technology issue aside, it looks like the newly installed school board will be discussing this next week. Better yet, the agenda includes both the county's legal opinion and the opinion Joe received from Bernstein, Stair, and McAdams.

(link...)

Not being a lawyer myself, I have no idea of the validity of either's position. But now you can read them and make up your own opinion.

Pickens's picture

Without Joe Sullivan there

I agree. Without Joe Sullivan there wouldn't be a Metro Pulse. And some folks posting here wouldn't have jobs.

If you want respect, give respect.

KC's picture

Joe Sullivan's on the right

Joe Sullivan's on the right side. Facts don't matter.

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