Oklahoma officials offer consolidation of information technology services to school districts

Consolidating shared information technology services will save school districts money, the state's IT czar tells an Oklahoma House of Representatives committee.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: February 7, 2013 at 10:05 pm •  Published: February 8, 2013
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Public school districts would save millions of dollars by hooking up with a state agency to consolidate information technology workers and share in services, Oklahoma's information technology czar told a legislative panel Thursday.

The state has high-speed data transmission lines across the state, which especially would help schools in rural areas where high-speed Internet service is spotty, Alex Pettit, the state's chief information officer, said.

The state Office of Management and Enterprise Services, which has overseen the consolidation of information technology services in state agencies the past couple of years, also has staff in place to perform information technology-related duties that teachers, coaches and others in smaller districts are doing in addition to their regular school duties, Pettit said.

The strongest appeal is savings, Pettit told members of the House of Representatives Government Modernization Committee.

It would improve the services, and school districts would be able to provide them at a lower cost, he said.

Pettit estimated savings of about $8 million for schools by using one platform across the state just for student information services. School districts would pay for the individual cost of providing the service for each student. Pettit estimated the cost per student could be cut in half, from nearly $17 per student to $8 per student.

‘Open Range' program

Gov. Mary Fallin announced Monday during her State of the State speech to legislators that she had asked Pettit, who also serves on her Cabinet, to develop and implement the “Open Range” program.

“This new program will be available to help schools begin their own IT consolidation efforts, improve their technology and free up more dollars in the process,” she said.

By joining the state system, larger school districts could reduce their information technology staff and smaller districts could let teachers, coaches and others who now provide the services spend more time in the classroom, he said.

Pettit said the Office of Management and Enterprise Services has 17 full-time information technologists supporting the platform.

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