Back-Office Business: How Schools Get It Done: July 2010

Back-Office Business: How Schools Get It Done: July 2010

Michigan approves statewide K–12 public cyberschool

CHALLENGE: Michigan wanted to give students the option of completing their public-school education online.

SOLUTION: The state approved a new statewide charter school, Michigan Connections Academy. MICA is expected to serve a wide range of Michigan students, including those who are significantly ahead or behind in the classroom; students who would benefit from more individualized instruction or who require a flexible school schedule; and returning dropouts. The cyberschool combines Michigan-certified teachers, a standards-aligned curriculum, technology tools, an extensive selection of electives and clubs, and community experiences to create an individualized alternative to the brickand- mortar classroom.

Kentucky schools move to cloud

CHALLENGE: The Kentucky Department of Education was looking for ways to save money as well as shorten the tech-implementation cycle.

SOLUTION: The KDE selected a cloud-based service to bring communications and collaborative tools to more than 700,000 students, faculty, and staff statewide. With the move, Kentucky expects to save $6.3 million in operational costs over four years. Microsoft Live@edu is a no-cost suite of online services based on familiar Microsoft technologies. Students and educators can access information in the cloud virtually anytime, anywhere through Web browsers and from any Internet-connected PC or mobile phone. The service integrates with existing school systems, including school portals, allowing people to access all content with one identity and a single sign-on.

New Jersey district innovates purchasing system

CHALLENGE: The Newark Public Schools District is the largest, and one of the oldest, school systems in New Jersey. In an effort to streamline its ordering process, the district recently embarked on a joint venture by integrating its purchasing system with that of education company Pearson.

SOLUTION: The new arrangement links Newark’s 75 schools directly to the Pearson online ordering platform. Through this collaboration, Newark’s educators can order learning products and programs at the district’s contracted prices. The new, paperless feature went online in April and is the equivalent of a person ordering books via the Internet, except that it has school budget limits and purchasing codes in place to prevent mistakes.

Online high-school curriculum offers high-tech challenges

CHALLENGE: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, as many as a third of high-school graduates who go on to college are not prepared for postsecondary education.

SOLUTION: An online high school in Washington State is addressing this problem with a challenging curriculum—and it’s free. Located in White Salmon, Washington, Columbia Tech High School is part of the White Salmon Valley School District. Columbia Tech now offers a tuition-free online program, Giant Campus of Washington, which offers both the core curriculum and elective concentrations in digital arts, computer science, and business and innovation. The program is available to students statewide.