The Kootenay Lake school district will hire a director of information technology to address the “band-aids and work-arounds” currently necessitated by SD8’s existing systems, and to help them prepare for innovations in the future. However, rather than offering applicants the typical three-to-five-year contract, the board has decided to limit it to one year renewable.
“Originally there was no term attached to the posting, and I’m in the process of notifying the applicants of the board’s decision to limit the contract to one-year renewable,” Superintendent Jeff Jones told the Star.
“I suspended the search right now until we hear back from those that applied. I’m looking at a different annual cycle for that position, because it doesn’t make sense to hire them at the beginning of the school year.”
The shorter term throws a wrench in his plans.
“I would have envisioned someone being able to support us with our information security and relate to us what we can and can’t be doing with technology and the sharing of information. And it goes well beyond computers. The position includes working with the telephones, photocopiers, anything that connects with each other, the internet and other information,” he said.
“I wanted someone with a vision for the future and an understanding of what’s coming down the line, because we want someone to lead us so we’re well-positioned for what’s coming and won’t always be having to play catch-up.”
Jones commended the work of the current technology team — there are four of them — but said it’s an overwhelming task and they would benefit from engaging with an employee from another sector.
“The intent of this is to free up teacher time to work with students,” Jones said. “In every school we’ve got people with incredible backgrounds in technology, but their time is being sucked up trying to make the systems we have work.”
This includes the provincially mandated MyEdBC, which recently malfunctioned and led to registration issues at both L.V. Rogers and Princes Charles Secondary in Creston.
“There’s a multi-million dollar budget that goes with technology and I think it would be wise to have that well-spent.”
Jones doesn’t believe the position would negatively affect teachers’ time with their students.
“This is one position and I know there’s all kinds of speculation about our district being over-administered, but if you look at it historically there’s actually been a number of reductions made at the management level,” he said.
“We’re working hard to make sure we’re aligning our resources at all levels to meet student needs.”
The search for someone to fill the position has been “suspended” at the moment, but Jones said it’s crucial to find someone.
“Any other large organization in Nelson, like the City of Nelson or the regional district, they all have directors of information technology and they’re smaller than we are.”
Meanwhile, registration woes have settled significantly since last week, he said.
“We’ve been working closely with principal Tim Huttemann and making sure to meet the needs of our students at L.V. Rogers.”
Jones warns of data breach
Jones circulated a letter to the SD8 community this week warning of a “potential data breach” at the Ministry of Education.
“An unencrypted external hard drive which contains student data cannot be found,” he wrote. “Ministry staff are continuing their efforts to locate the missing hard drive.”
Jones assured parents that the protection of personal information and privacy is of the utmost importance “and a top priority of school districts and the provincial government.”
The government announced the breach “out of an abundance of caution.”
For more information, Jones encouraged parents to contact Service BC.