2/14/2014 2:15:00 PM CF school changes technology provider
by Nora Bryson
Cannon Falls Superintendent Beth Giese introduced Aaron Bergstrath's presentation on the We Tech (WETC) internet and technology consortium Monday night by briefly explaining that the district has been using the SEMNET consortium over the past several years but she had "dropped that contract today" (though service will continue through July) because she felt WETC "would provide a better value."
Bergstrath explained that WETC had started in 1988 as an iTV provider but had recently become a school district in and of itself due to new state legislation allowing the formation of "joint powers organizations." As such, WETC runs like a cooperative with board members representing the school district members. Currently there are only three school district members: Kenyon-Wanamingo, Goodhue, and Zumbrota. WETC is also courting Red Wing and the Goodhue County Education District as well as Cannon Falls. Each member receives 300 MegaBits of service with rates set according to Federal e-rates. WETC has 25 course offerings in addition to ISP (internet service provider) services, a host IT (working in the Cloud) and providing technical and trouble-shooting assistance.
Giese said the provider change would "reduce the need to bring in Marco every time a server goes down" resulting in an estimated savings to the district of between $50,000 and $70,000. She also felt the staff sharing would increase teacher efficiency while expanding curriculum choices, stating that the district would now be able to offer French or Chinese language courses. She will have the contract terms ready for next month's meeting.