Pelham BOE studying future technology needs

The Pelham School Board is working to make sure its school technology infrastructure is ready when the city forms its own school district. (File)

The Pelham School Board is working to make sure its school technology infrastructure is ready when the city forms its own school district. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

The Pelham Board of Education has much work to do to ensure its technology is ready to go when the city finalizes its split from the Shelby County School System, a consultant told Pelham School Board members during a Feb. 10 meeting.

Shawn Nutting, a consultant with the Birmingham-based Clear Winds Technologies company, gave Pelham School Board members an overview of the technology infrastructure in place in the city’s schools.

As Pelham eyes a July 1 split date from the Shelby County School System, it will have to plan to take over everything from phone service to transportation management software in the city’s schools, Nutting said.

The Pelham school system will have to take steps to assume ownership of HVAC controls, cafeteria management software, door keypads, library circulation software and the Blackboard Connect mass notification software, Nutting said.

Nutting’s report came after he walked through each school in Pelham to study the schools’ technology infrastructures.

During his school visits, Nutting also compiled a list of teacher requests, such as new computers, information technology technicians in each school, Google apps for teachers, iPads, document cameras and smart boards.

Nutting said most of the computers in Pelham’s schools are between three and five years old or older, but said about 107 computers are less than one year old. He advised against replacing all computers at once after Pelham forms its own system.

“The big mistake we made in Trussville was we replaced all the workstations right out of the gate,” Nutting said. “That was great for a few years, but when it came time to replace those computers, it created a financial problem because we had to replace all the computers at once.”

Nutting also suggested the Pelham school system invest in cloud-based server desktops, which would allow individual computers to access information remotely from a server. The cloud-based desktops would cut down on the need for “high-horsepower” computers in each classroom, he said.

“This is a major issue in developing our school system,” Pelham Interim Superintendent Dr. Tim Alford said of Nutting’s report. “At some point, that switch will be shut off, and we better have one ready to turn on.”