Local tech experts endorse the Technology Bond

The Ann Arbor Public Schools has a partner as it develops its technology plans: the Tech Advisory Group.

The ten-member group is made up of local business professionals and technology experts. The group analyzes district technology plans and offers cost-cutting measures, insider tips on evolving technologies and organizational strategies for a district that serves more than 16,000 students. The members are offering their services as AAPS prepares for the upcoming Tech Bond vote on May 8, and the group will continue to evaluate the district on a yearly basis.

After analyzing the Tech Bond plans, the group offered this letter of endorsement:

We are writing this letter as a symbol of our endorsement of the current technology plan. The initial plan calls on changes to enhance and strengthen the infrastructure of technology through the district and seems very reasonable.  We found that the AAPS plan was very practical in its formulation with no undue extravagance. The challenges associated with technology in education and the constant changes in technology present difficult problems.  However, AAPS staff were very open to suggestions and created a wonderful yearly evaluation that enables the plan to be adjusted as technology continues to evolve. The initial stage is well conceived, while phases 2 and 3 are not pre-determined, which allows for flexibility and adaptability as times change.

The staff of AAPS has demonstrated admirable leadership qualities during the advisory sessions and taken the comments to adjust the executive summary.  These adjustments, such as exploring electronic textbooks, the addition of a yearly evaluation, and exploring mobile devices, demonstrated the district’s willingness to adjust the plan as needed.

For all these reasons, we highly recommend the plan in its current state.  We believe that as a group we can continue to grow and assist with ideas and advice.  Allowing the community to be involved in providing free advice on the plan demonstrates wonderful leadership in our community by the AAPS technology staff.

The members of the group represent ProQuest, Thomson Reuters, Thomson Shore, Terumo Cardiovascular Systems Corp., Menlo Innovations, LLC, Bank of Ann Arbor, United Way of Washtenaw County, Accuri Cytometers, Boundary Systems.

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  1. It’s great to have the technology advisory board and I thank them for the contributions to our community. Based on what I have been told by district administrators, my understanding is that no one currently on the board has experience with K-12 instructional technology. That seems to be a significant gap and one I hope AAPS addresses quickly.

  2. Hi John,

    I took your comment to John VanRiper, the director of instructional technology for the district. He said the district sought out the Tech Advisory Group for their advice on technology trends and application: “They told us the best way to go, and made sure our plan made sense.”
    He said the district consulted with teachers and principals when developing their Tech Bond plans, so there is plenty of educator input. AAPS also has a director of instructional technology whose job is to help integrate technology into curriculum goals.
    I think of it as the Tech Advisory Group helped the district make sure the “big picture” made sense. After all, a district this huge has the same technology needs as a big corporation, and the Advisory Group has plenty of corporate experience. As for how that technology will be used day-to-day in classrooms for learning purposes, that’s up to the education experts: teachers, principals and the IT department.

    Thanks for reading the AAPS News!


    Tara Cavanaugh
    AAPS News Editor

  3. Ms. Cavanaugh-

    That’s helpful information and all very good input. It’s still not clear to me why AAPS has not invited someone with expertise in K-12 instructional technology to be part of the tech advisory board – particularly if the board will continue their work after the vote on Tuesday. Surely, with all the universities in the region there could be one or two people identified for this type of input. That type of external perspective is just as valuable as the perspective provided by the current members of the advisory board.

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