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Articles: Purchasing

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation in August designed to help schools and other government institutions save money by taking advantage of cooperative purchasing networks. The law makes New York the final U.S. state to allow for cooperative purchasing and could provide much needed relief for schools looking to cut costs.

Trad Robinson

Trad Robinson, age 36, began his career in 1997 as the director of technology for the Union County (S.C.) School District after obtaining a computer science degree from Limestone College. In 2007, he became director of technology for Cherokee County (S.C.) Schools. He recently was named the chief information officer at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind.

Q: Can you share some of your career accomplishments so far?

Texas State Board of Education, Cargill

The 2011-2012 school year marked the first time in decades that Texas school districts could purchase instructional materials without approval by the state board of education. Senate Bill 6, which was implemented Sept. 1, 2011, freed up $792 million for school districts to purchase materials. The intent behind the bill was twofold: to allow district textbook coordinators to spend more money on instructional technology, and to prevent the content of textbooks from being held hostage to the political opinions of the state board of education.

Sixth-graders from the Wayland-Cohocton Middle School in New York train on Toshiba tablets, which the school won in a 2010 Win a Wireless Lab Sweepstakes.

Tablets have come a long way since Apple launched its pioneering Newton MessagePad in 1993, the first Internet-connected flat-screen device pairing a stylus with handwriting-recognition software. Since then, computer hardware companies have been refining and experimenting with the concept of Internet-connected tablet computing devices. The personal digital assistant (PDA), convertible laptop/tablets, dual-screen booklet tablets, e-book readers and other designs have been among the many iterations of tablet computers, sometimes known as slates or media tablets.

Monitoring a child with severe food allergies is no easy task. Monitoring hundreds of such children within a district of 30,000 students is even harder. This is why Colorado Springs (Colo.) School District 11 adopted a new software system from a local provider this past fall that details the ingredients of every meal served at every school.

Phil Sheridan was tired of interfacing with computers instead of humans.

As the former technology coordinator for the Morris Central School District in Morris, NY, he spent many hours addressing computer malfunctions and user confusion at the expense of spreading his knowledge.

Because his district used a traditional one-computer-to-one-monitor system at the time, he was in charge of keeping hundreds of physical computer systems running. That meant he spent more time maintaining computers than showing teachers and students how to use them.

David Peterson is the chief technology officer for Fiddlehead, a young company merging with CDI this month. Peterson has been developing the Fiddlehead software for most of his 21-year working life.

What does the Fiddlehead software do?

Fiddlehead is software that creates up to four virtual computers from one CPU. With Fiddlehead, up to four students can work independently on the computer, each with their own monitor, keyboard, mouse and operating system.

I’m pleased to officially welcome Fiddlehead, Inc., to CDI’s corporate family.

Fiddlehead, a New York-based company of programmers who make fantastic software specifically for school tech coordinators, will allow us to help you save even more time and money. Though we’ve been known for years as the hardware people for schools looking for the highest quality refurbished computers, we’ve always kept an eye out for something else we can offer—something that would make us more of a complete solution provider.

Michael Peveler, vice president of education sales at AMX

Michael Peveler has been vice president of education sales for AMX for five years. An education major in college at Texas Tech University, he taught for eight years. He has been exposed to the industry and the transition toward a networking type technology over the course of the 13 years that he has worked for AMX. At the same time, he is receiving an Executive MBA in International Business at the University of Texas at Dallas.

In the last few years, smartphones have moved quickly from banned to embraced in K12 schools as educators have realized that mobile learning devices engage students, enhance the teaching of 21st-century skills, and instantly check for understanding with student response applications. Districts have started upgrading their wireless networks to accommodate one-to-one technology initiatives, while others follow a “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy.

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho

As legislators in Florida gather this month in Tallahassee, they have a unique opportunity to empower our students with technology that will enhance their education. Our legislators have the capacity to provide students with digital content at a fraction of the cost of traditional textbooks.

Districts in the area covered by the LEARN Regional Educational Service Center in southeastern Connecticut for the past four years have boosted their ability to save money on bulk technology purchases through online reverse auctions. Such auctions are designed so that vendors try to out-lowball one another to get the job in school districts.

County, regional and statewide education service centers that provide shared purchasing power and technical support have been around for as long as a half-century, and some have helped districts gain lower prices on technology through economies of scale since the heyday of the Apple II. But the combination of tighter-than-ever budgets and greater-than-ever needs for computing and other leading-edge technology has made the opportunities that education service centers provide all the more valuable in the past three years.

In the 1990s, school districts invested all they could in desktop computers that had plenty of horsepower, since applications and data were all stored locally on individual machines. By the 2000s, the individual machines had become less critical as districts moved to server-based networks.

Keith Rogers, chief operating Officer of Milwaukee Academy of Science, was looking for a home computer when he recalled a series of email messages he'd received at work from a CDI sales representative about recertified machines. He visited CDI's site and, while he ultimately decided to buy his personal computer somewhere else, he found himself pleasantly surprised by CDI's prices.

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