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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rolling out eForms and our new employee Intranet

Today we announced the Judson ISD Intranet, available through the MyJISD Portal.  The Intranet is an employee focused web site, where Judson ISD employees can go to search for needed information.  It is a constant work in progress, as departments add more documents and information each day.  The Intranet already has a variety of manuals, handbooks, forms, and administrative procedures. The Intranet has a very robust search feature, which indexes key words from web pages, PDF, MS Word documents and more.

As part of the transition to the Intranet, all PDF/Word forms have been moved from eduphoria! FormSpace to the departmental Intranet sites.  The only forms that are now in FormSpace are eForms, which are electronic forms that are submitted online.  Once a form is submitted, the user receives a routing status update as the form moves through its approval process, keeping them informed of the form’s whereabouts at all times.  With the opening of the Intranet, we rolled out an expanding selection of eForms in eduphoria! FormSpace

We made these changes to improve information flow across the organization, and in the case of eForms, to speed up the form submittal process, and save printing costs. 

Stretching Technology Dollars - Being Leaner and More Efficient

I was recently asked about how school districts can stretch tight technology funds - here is my quick 2 cents:

Given that many districts are struggling to retain staff, pay for fuel, deal with increasing student enrollment etc,  many of us are certainly struggling to pay for what we would not consider ambitious projects.  Or said differently, we can all think of more grand plans for times when budgets are not as tight.  That being said, there are a lot of ways to try to stretch funds:
  1. Local desktop virtualization (such as Fiddlehead, nComputing, etc)
  2. Server virtualization
  3. Look at VDI (virtual desktops) and calculate TCO for your organization.  We reused old PC's as endpoints and disaster recovery NOC with underutilized computing power, so VDI did make financial sense for us.  
  4. Leverage eRate discounts for telecommunication costs and for matching funds on network equipment
  5. Start using eForms for faster routing and less paper usage
  6. Leverage power management on your computers - I estimate we saved $120,000 in four years doing this
  7. Try to consolidate servers and the product lines you support (of course BYOD changes this)
  8. Eliminate inffective applications or one that are little used
  9. Leverage BYOD - you may be able to cut some capital expenditures
  10. Renegotiation of contracts
  11. Sign longer contracts for larger discounts with trusted partners
  12. Competitively bid large purchases
  13. Buy used/refurbished equipment
  14. Automate identity management and application user provisioning
  15. Deliver apps via the web and get away from software installs when feasible
  16. Leverage smart fleet management with desktop management products

JISD's Chief Technology Officer Named Chair of Texas K-12 CTO Council

Yep - it's true......text below is from

Steve Young, Judson ISD Chief Technology Officer, has been selected by his state-wide peers as Chair of the Texas K-12 CTO Council.  The organization assists school districts across the state, in understanding how to plan for and implement important technology information. 

Judson ISD Launches eLearning 360

Recognizing that students learn differently in today's world, Judson ISD is launching eLearning 360: 

Technology Services & Instructional Technology are pleased to announce our new Judson ISD eLearning 360 initiative, which is allowing learning to take place online in and out of the classroom at any time.

Today's students live in a very different world, always connected by a multiplicity of devices. They learn differently and have new expectations for how to learn. Judson ISD eLearning 360 is about both students and teachers learning together in a new way, with the same high expectations for achievement.

The Judson ISD eLearning 360 initiative includes several related offerings:

Content Below this was imported from old Blog

All content below this was imported from my old blog at

Judson ISD Featured in eSchoolNews

eSchoolNews on Jan 24th, 2011 featured Judson ISD in an article entitled "Amid economic uncertainty, ed-tech leaders do more with less".
The article was written based on Judson ISD's presentation in a national CoSN Webinar on January 18th. The article appears here:

San Antonio Area Technology Directors Meet to Discuss Technology and Budgets

San Antonio Area Technology Directors from the education industry met today at South San Antonio ISD. This is group meets quarterly to discuss issues and trends, as well as to share ideas. The most sobering talk today was around the Texas House draft budget and the elimination of the state Technology Allotment, which has been a cornerstone of school district technology budgets all over the state of Texas. Technology has become a vital part of all district operations, while most districts have let the state of Texas fund a large share of their costs. Now this money is looking like it may no longer be available in the upcoming biennium; many folks fear that this means schools will end up having computers with lifecycles of 10 years or more, and many in the group feel that they or their staff may end up without a job. The hope is that a compromise budget may be less drastic, although everyone realizes that cuts will happen across the state....
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Tools4ever Releases Case Study on Judson ISD Identity Management Project

Technology Services’ partner on our identity management project, Tools4Ever, has released a Judson ISD case study on their website at
Just click on story on lower right hand side of their home page or click this link

Judson ISD Recognized by Cisco for Innovative Use of Building Access Control

Cisco Systems highlighted Judson ISD's innovative use of their building access control products in a brand new case study today, published at:

Cisco web page screenshot

We have a new NOC for Disaster Recovery

Our long awaited 2nd major Data Center or NOC (Network operations center) has opened at the newly rebuilt Judson High School. This data center serves a vital role in servicing the expanding data and computing needs of our growing district, as well as a safety net for our data and computing systems. We are leveraging VMware on HP blades in conjuntion with a Compellant SAN for an outstanding densely configured data center.
jhs noc.jpg
jhs noc.jpg

The new Data Center

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jhs cafeteria.jpg

The new Judson High School

JISD Web Store Pilot has launched for Adventure Club online payments

Judson ISD’s pilot online Web Store has launched today at
While first up in the pilot is our after school care program, Adventure Club, next up we will be looking at moving Adult Education over to a full online system including payments. In the future we will have lots of possibilities for expansion to areas like tickets, summer school, and other fees.
JISD Web Store

Morgan's Wonderland Effectively Utilizes Technology to Make Their Park Safer for Visitors

San Antonio's North Chamber Technology Council's CIO Breakfast met in July at Morgan's Wonderland to see how technology has improved the visitor experience at their facility. The park is a wonderful example of personal inititiative and philanthropy of Gordon Hartmam, many volunteers, and generous donors. While it caters to special needs visitors, the park has created an environment where all visitors can access rides and exhibits.
The technology star of the park is unique RFID tracking system that keeps tracks of all visitors. At any time, a care giver or parent who has lost track of someone in their group, can scan their wrist band at a location station and immediately find the rest of their party on a digital map. This innovative system allows families and groups to truly enjoy the park worry free.
More information on the Gordon Hartman Family Foundation and Morgan's Wonderland can be found here:
Gordon Hartman talks with San Antonio technology leaders

Gordon Hartman talks with San Antonio technology leaders
Sign detailing RFID system at Morgan's Wonderland

Sign detailing RFID system at Morgan's Wonderland

Judson ISD featured in July 2010 Technology & Learning Magazine

Technology & Learning Magazine July 2010
The July 2010 of the national magazine Technology and Learning features several districts, including Judson ISD in their cover story "SCHOOL CIO: Getting Easier to be Green."
The full article is available here:

JISD Technology Services Student Intern Featured in San Antonio Express News and Student Internships
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Judson ISD Technology Services is delighted that the San Antonio Express News featured one of our student summer interns, Jaleisha Smith, in their article in their July 11th Sunday newspaper.
The full article and photo are here. Thanks again to the San Antonio Express News and for this very positive news feature!

Texas K-12 CTO Council / CoSN Summer 2010 Clinic was great!

The Texas K-12 CTO Council and CoSN co-hosted the annual Summer CTO Clinic in Austin at the UT Pickle Research center on June 23rd and 24th. The speakers, ranging from technology leaders, superintendents, to professors, led engaging discussion on leadership and technology in Texas schools.
An agenda with presentation links is available on the Texas K-12 CTO Council web site at:

Thin Clients and Server-based computing....Judson ISD Poised to Deploy "New" Computers for High Schools

Judson ISD is continuing our quest to get the best computing value for our students and teachers, allowing us to stretcThin clients from HP and 10Zig tested using Citrixh our limited resources. As we prepare to outfit both Wagner and Judson HIgh Schools for Fall 2010, we are keenly aware of funding limitations, yet we recognize the increasing need of students and teachers to utilize digitial resources. So we are trying to limit our endpoint device cost, while also trying to keep our approach as green as our funding will permit.

For the high schools we are not going to utilize nComputing X series devices as in the past, because we are not planning to put out as many general classroom computers, but instead we will focus on increasing the number of labs, which we feel will be better served by delivering a desktop experience from a server farm. The end user will have the look and feel of a brand new Windows 7 device and the speed of a new computer. On an old Pentium 4 computer th eend user would have no idea they are using a 5 year old computer given the performance we have seen in testing.
nComputing L300 Pre-Release Test
We are taking a two-pronged approach for delivering new desktops to our inexpensive end points. Firstly, we will reuse older computers (5-7 years old) as endpoints running Citrix Xenapp (reducing out eWaste footprint). We have tested this approach and seen extremely promising results in functionality, speed, and manageability. Secondly, where we do not have older equipment to reuse, we will be deploying nComputing L300units. We have tested several beta units and achieved very good results. nComputing has been working very closely with Judson ISD to support our testing of this brand new technology, and we believe that the L300 units will potentially be a game changing network based device. The early indications are that the unit's price point will be very low (around $200-$300) and we have already seen it outperform every $200 thin client we have tested.

Judson ISD Featured in April issue of School Planning and Management

Judson ISD is happy to announce that is has been featured in an article entitiled "Eco IT" which appears in the April issue of School Planning and Management. The article highlights the steps Judson ISD has undertaken to be more conscious of IT's impact on the environment and at the same time trying to utilize IT resources much more efficiently.

Judson ISD featured in CoSN's "Weathering the Storm 2010 Compendium"

Judson ISD is proud to be featured as a contributor in the CoSN's "Weathering the Storm 2010" compendium. The compendium highlights several school districts and their strategies for delivering the same or increased services in rough economic times. JISD Technology Services has vastly expanded its services and the applications we support over the last several years. So doing more with less is something at which we have had to become very adept.
Please check out the commpendium at: