Keeping Technology Up-To-Date at Winthrop Schools

By Marianne Salza

Winthrop Public Schools (WPS) has been working with RetroFit, a leading service provider, to help monitor, support, and maintain up-to-date technologies within the schools. Superintendent John Macero has been looking into facility management systems in search of a plan that works for all the schools.

“There is a limited amount of resources for the community. The Finance Commission, the Town Manager, the Town Council, and all of the departments within the town need to share that limited resource,” said Peter Gill, Town Council President. “The school department needs more resources but it’s difficult to take the resources from the other departments.”

The most concerning area of interest discussed during the Sept. 14 Winthrop School Committee meeting was the equipment and systems in the new middle/high school, which are completely unlike the ones in the other buildings.

“One of my goals would be to bring on a person as soon as possible to start working and become educated as the materials and machinery come in,” said Macero.

Although some members of the committee would like to see a full-time IT (Internet Technology) position at the new school, it is not currently in the budget. Finding salary funds is difficult, but necessary; especially when transitioning into a new school.

“I think we have an obligation to the town to make sure the building runs successfully and has the equipment and support that the other schools don’t have,” said Dawn Sullivan, School Committee member.

Sullivan also believes it would be beneficial to have skilled managers who are familiar with incorporating academics with technology.

Another pertinent issue is the limited wireless internet access at the Arthur T. Cummings Elementary School. After consulting HP (Hewlett Packard) the school learned that there are only six access points, and that increasing them would allow students to connect to a network more efficiently.

“We have learned that Chromebooks tend to not respond quickly enough to the bandwidth,” said Macero. “There are all sorts of technical issues that we are working on.”

School Committee member, Maryalice Sharkey stressed the need for schools to tap into other financial resources to help support the technology department and maintenance manager.

“Looking toward the next budget we need to emphasize the understanding between the council and the Citizens Finance Commission,” said Sharkey. “The monies that we ask for are important and are attached to progress and resources for our kids.”

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