SOUTHINGTON – With thousands of Chromebook laptops scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks and the district dependent on remote learning, the Board of Education approved a job description for a network manager Thursday night.
The former technology director Jamie Olander left the district early last month after five and a half years. School officials described his departure as a “mutual separation.”
School Superintendent Tim Connellan initially took over the role although the technology department is now overseen by Assistant Superintendent Steve Madancy. Connellan said Olander’s departure was a chance to rethink the job description.
Despite the vacancy and the huge need for technological assistance for parents, teachers and families, school board chairwoman Terri Carmody said the district has done well. She expected the technology department to remain busy when schools switch to remote learning due to COVID cases.
“The demand now with remote is probably going to increase tremendously,” Carmody said during the school board meeting Thursday. “It seems like the cases are on the rise.”
The district is expecting a shipment of 1,100 Chromebooks on Monday and nearly 4,000 more in November. The deliveries were delayed from earlier this year by demand from districts across the country when schools were shut down.
Madancy said the shipments will be enough to provide every student with their own laptop. That makes switching from in-class to at-home learning easier. While children are in school, they can learn how to navigate virtual classrooms “which hopefully relieves the pressure on parents” if they have to go remote.
The district also provides internet hotspot devices for those families without internet service. Connellan said the problem of internet access is complicated since households’ bandwidth can be quickly consumed by parents working and students in school.
The job description approved by the board Thursday night included some requirements identical to Olander’s job description, such as a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a similar field and five years experience in information technology. The network manager reports to Madancy. No salary was listed and will be set by the education board.
Technology needs have been growing in districts even before the pandemic sent children home. In Wallingford, school Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said the district hired an additional technology staff member but that hire was planned before the pandemic.
With so many laptops, internet hotspots and tablet computers out with families, Menzo said there’s been a great need for tech support.
“Our IT staff has been remarkable,” he said. “They have all risen to the occasion.”