Bedden warns of 'crisis'

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Short on people and strapped for money, the technology department in Richmond County schools is a "crisis waiting to happen," Superintendent Dana Bedden said Thursday.

Superintendent Dana Bedden  said he sought help from the city and Fort Gordon.  Special
Special
Superintendent Dana Bedden said he sought help from the city and Fort Gordon.

Resources are stretched so thin that he has advised against buying too many classroom computers out of concern that a meager staff of six employees won't be able to install and maintain them. The six employees oversee the technology needs of 60 schools and the school board's offices.

"We are, in my mind, a crisis waiting to happen with our technology situation," he said.

Dr. Bedden has turned to the city of Augusta and Fort Gordon for any help either can lend should a problem arise.

The technology department lacks a designated leader. The director of data processing retired, and the assistant director position was removed from the budget. The board has been trying to fill the chief technology officer position.

"I basically went crawling and begging to the Signal Corp and the county for help because of the number of employees we lost," Dr. Bedden told school board members. "Everybody we talked to said the job doesn't pay what it's asking for."

On Thursday night, the school board contracted with Ann Marie Marshall to serve as the acting chief technology officer, a position established on the recommendation of MGT of America's audit to oversee both the educational and business technology aspects of the school system.

The position had been advertised, but Dr. Bedden wasn't comfortable with the pool of applicants and preferred to hire someone in the interim while he conducts another search.

Ms. Marshall comes on the recommendation of Tameka Allen, the city's director of information technology. Mrs. Allen recently led a team of city employees who reviewed the school system's technology needs. She reported to the school board this week that the system is doing well with its limited resources, but she listed a few issues that need to be addressed, including redundancy, a lack of documentation and no technology replacement plan.

Finding a suitable chief technology officer could prove difficult, Dr. Bedden said, because of the low pay and limited resources for the department.

"We've got to find compassionate people who feel a calling because we certainly can't compete with the industry," the superintendent said.

According to the school system, about $3.85 million is allocated in the general fund for technology, including personnel. Another $1.4 million comes from sales tax revenue.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

IN OTHER BUSINESS

Also Thursday, the board:

- Restructured the Title I office, reducing its staff from 24.5 positions to 16.3 positions.

- Restructured the human resources department, decreasing the number of director-level positions but grandfathering in employees at their current salary.

- Contracted with PHD Vision to write grants and evaluate grant programs. For $50,000, the company guarantees a $500,000 to $1 million return within two years.

- Changed the public hearing dates for the proposed tax increase. The hearings will be at noon and 6 p.m. July 21 and 4 p.m. July 24.

- Reapplied for the 21st Century Learning Center Hope Project Grant.

Comments (68) Add comment
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edst4
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edst4 07/11/08 - 06:50 am
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The story does not state what

The story does not state what the starting salary is for a desktop support tech or a mid range or high end with exp.

DeborahElliott2
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DeborahElliott2 07/11/08 - 07:15 am
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That is because it would

That is because it would embarrass the department and they don't want that. They want a person who has a "calling" meaning, very low pay, maybe less than $7 per hour (estimated guess).

apocoilipsenow
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apocoilipsenow 07/11/08 - 07:23 am
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Short of people and styrapped

Short of people and styrapped for cash my behind. Get rid of about half the hangers on in administration, close schools you don' t need and tighten your belt dana. Typical liberal, don't fix the problem---throw more money at it!

No_Longer_Amazed
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No_Longer_Amazed 07/11/08 - 07:43 am
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After seeing what has been

After seeing what has been going on with the BOE over the last 3 or 4 months, I now firmly believe that nothing has changed since the last Superintendent left!

ironpurps
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ironpurps 07/11/08 - 07:46 am
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Give Dr. Bedden a break! He

Give Dr. Bedden a break! He has come in to an antiquated, backwards county and is trying to bring it kicking and screaming into the 21st century. No IT person is going to work for the paltry salary that the couty would give. Maybe Augusta State could give us some help by trading credits for some of their top business school graduate students to help the county. Also, there are MANY in the county 'leadership' that should have retired years ago, some are still productive. I say just move them into classrooms with their 'expertise' and they would leave quickly. Last thing-quit giving zone exceptions for incompetent reasons so that the schools receiving the troublesome students can make AYP.

Bizarro
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Bizarro 07/11/08 - 07:54 am
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Bedden has to undo decades of

Bedden has to undo decades of ineptness and incompetence from his predecessor. Seems a bright man who has a handle on the situation but you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear. My bet he is too qualified and too intelligent to stay here long.

Unbelievable
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Unbelievable 07/11/08 - 08:03 am
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6 employees is ridiculous.

6 employees is ridiculous. They are wanting to pay 35k for a job that anywhere else would make between 80-125k (Easy). Of course no one is going to want to do it. Plus you have to deal with snotty county employees all the time. Low Pay + Big Headache = NOT WORHT IT. I will speak to my friend on the Board and see what the pay is for sure, if they up it, I might put in for it.

getagrip
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getagrip 07/11/08 - 08:10 am
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Should you apply and use your

Should you apply and use your formula above, please know it is Worth.

justsoyaknow
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justsoyaknow 07/11/08 - 08:16 am
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Apoc -- you've hit the nail

Apoc -- you've hit the nail on the head! Look at the funding used for the main office and consider that IT was intentionally thrown to the side to be 'tomorrows problem'. Bizarro -- get real! Any reasonable candidate for his position knew what he was getting before he got hired. HIS pay isn't so (as compared to IT!) so let him EARN it!

voluptuously_auburn1
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voluptuously_auburn1 07/11/08 - 08:33 am
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Going on the idea posted

Going on the idea posted earlier, instead, however, use the students we already have in the school system. Many, many RC students are quite capable of performing the work and the students would earn cash and credits towards class and learn applicable trade/work experience to bring to their (first) job.

apocoilipsenow
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apocoilipsenow 07/11/08 - 08:53 am
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bedden/lark, lark/bedden,

bedden/lark, lark/bedden, bedden/lark--all the same, nothings changed! Crooks them all!

intheknow
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intheknow 07/11/08 - 08:57 am
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IRONPURPS great post.

IRONPURPS great post.

moonglo
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moonglo 07/11/08 - 09:10 am
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It is a shame that any time

It is a shame that any time someone comes to this county to try to do something good for OUR children or OUR County, instead of Us trying to support them you all are always tearing them down. If you don't like what Dr. Bedden is trying to do then get off of your duffs and try it for yourself, and lets see just how good you are at running the school systems!!!! How many of you, with the negativity, have children in the public school system, and not the MAGNET Schools!!!!!!

lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 07/11/08 - 09:11 am
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i bet the funds used to build

i bet the funds used to build the gymnasium for josey and the new football stadium for laney would have paid for the upgrades and then some , both schools graduate less than 40% of their respective senior classes... in some circles they would be considered underperforming. well property owners close your eyes and pray you are about to get "frieght trained" by the school board money express once again...but remember board member ms. cain said it best...."its for the children!!!"

Bizarro
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Bizarro 07/11/08 - 09:13 am
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Well because of my passion

Well because of my passion for ethics I want to believe they are not a bunch of crooks, but you would also think some one my age wouldn't be so naive. Never put your faith in people. I have acquiesced that all of Congress are crooks much to my chagrin. We should think about that this next Prez election. We should choose our crooks wisely. hee,hee,hee.

godogs
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godogs 07/11/08 - 09:26 am
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What about students from

What about students from Augusta Tech's or Augusta States Technology dept? Hands on experience is sometimes the best. Obviously the jobs would have to be overseen but it woud provide support at a much lower cost and the students could maybe continually help out with maintenance throughout the year. Maybe we need to look at that in other areas as well, let students in a lot of fields gain true work experience and provide services at a much lower cost than hiring a specific person always for the jobs. It would not only teach the trade but true workplace expierence in general.

apocoilipsenow
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apocoilipsenow 07/11/08 - 09:26 am
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How much money do you think

How much money do you think is wasted in RC with school transportation picking up and taking home atheletes form practice and before and after games. When I was in school, if you wanted to play sports, it was yours or your parents responsibility to get you there and home.

apocoilipsenow
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apocoilipsenow 07/11/08 - 09:28 am
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Again, fix the problems,

Again, fix the problems, don't throw more money at it. Most people and bussinesses live within their budgets. Why can't the schools and county govn't. Anyone ever heard of scaling back? I am, right now due to the gas situation!

ZenoElia
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ZenoElia 07/11/08 - 09:40 am
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In an interview on television

In an interview on television this week Bedden said about 90% of revenue is spent on personnel. This leaves very little for things like computers, books, maintenance etc. Having said that, it should be obvious he has some personnel that need to be removed, retired, and the whole balance of spending revamped. Otherwise he will be entirely dependent on service from volunteers, or assistance from grants that take time to acquire. He appears to be an intelligent manager, but he also appears slow to act on reworking the budget he has to work with. I agree that the IT salary offered would be hard to accept by anyone qualified to do the job. I suggest he look to places like the technical schools for students who need internships as well as other academic resources outside the public system locally. Surely there are enough qualified persons who have children in these schools that would be willing to give some of their time to improve the quality of their children's education.

appocoplsenow
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appocoplsenow 07/11/08 - 09:45 am
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Assistant principals??????

Assistant principals?????? What ever happened to coaches having the ADDITIONAL duty as assistant principals???? JEEZ, how much would that save??????

thistownisunbelievable
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thistownisunbelievable 07/11/08 - 09:45 am
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Hold on to your wallets,

Hold on to your wallets, taxpayers of ARC. It's going to be a bumpy ride. On the bright side, it is good to see they are restructuring the BOE to some degree, but I wonder if there is more excess to trim.

appocoplsenow
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appocoplsenow 07/11/08 - 09:50 am
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You can bet your azz

You can bet your azz thistown, the restructure, will cost you!

getalife
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getalife 07/11/08 - 10:19 am
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Dr. Bedden inherited a mess

Dr. Bedden inherited a mess left by Larke. The school board should follow the recommendations of the recent audit and close the schools designated. They should also look at all of the people that Larke hired during the last few years. I think the idea of allowing some of the kids in school to help is good. Many of these kids know as much about computers as the so- called experts.

thisnthat
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thisnthat 07/11/08 - 10:37 am
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When you consider that the

When you consider that the BOE purchases technology off e-rate which is a pittance compared to what you pay for the same item at a retail shop like CompUSA, you begin to see exactly how bad it is. Capital expenditures should be purchased from SPLOST money and not the general fund. This means that the ONLY issue is personnel. If you want to tighten the ship, run your school system in a business fashion and recognize that the two most important admin positions should be Finance and Technology, then compensate them as such! Until the public sector adopts a CFO/CIO approach and guarantees the IT Department the same voice as the finance department you are going to have problems. FYI, the IT Department also handles communications, so don't be surprised if you call a school and the telephone system doesn't work. This issue is bigger and more complicated than old PCs in the classroom.

jackfruitpaper833
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jackfruitpaper833 07/11/08 - 10:43 am
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jisomjr what about the money

jisomjr what about the money spent on Westside stadium, C.T.Walker, A.R. Johnson and the other schools could they have saved money there? Why did you have to mention Laney and Josey are they the only ones who got something new (over due) from the board? Get real.

Bizarro
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Bizarro 07/11/08 - 10:54 am
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The internet is full of

The internet is full of misinformation and you could make a good argument that the kids might be better off without it and is also tends to inhibit analytical thinking. But there are good arguments for it and suggestions to help find reliable info. Two interesting articles maybe of interest-one reliable info, the other concerning Wikipedia and its usefulness. http://www.library.jhu.edu/researchhelp/general/evaluating/ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/magnus_linklater/art...
The Truthsayer project is an interesting project promoting reliable information.

The Knave
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The Knave 07/11/08 - 11:01 am
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Another article by the

Another article by the illiterates at the Billy Morris emporium. To the writer and editor: It's Signal CORPS, not Signal CORP. The subject matter itself is reflective of the sad state of education in the USA today. It is absolutely non-competitive with that of other countries, some of which we call "third-world." For example, China graduates 600,000 engineers each year; India 350,000; Uncle Sugar 70,000. And, don't think that the American engineers are somehow superior, on the average, to those of China and India, for example. Some of the applicants to the best technological institutes in China and India, who are not accepted, come to the USA and attend our best institutes on full scholarships. Folks, what more does it take to prove that our political "leadership" has betrayed us and the Republic? We are in a death spiral, recovery from which is most unlikely. In fact, I would not wager anything on the possibility of a recovery, unless there is a revolution. Regrettably, the average American is too fat, sassy, satisfied and willing to be lead around by the nose, for that to ever happen. The sun is rapidly setting on the American empire. That's all folks!

appocoplsenow
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appocoplsenow 07/11/08 - 11:02 am
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bedden crying wolf again, get

bedden crying wolf again, get rid of the pork bedden!!!!!!

moonglo
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moonglo 07/11/08 - 11:05 am
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To appocoplsenow, You need to

To appocoplsenow,

You need to get some of your facts correct, my son has played football and ran track at Academy of Richmond for the past two years and no one from the school has provided transportation to any practice!!! Parents are responsible for getting there children to and from practice!!!!! Obviously you don't have any children in school or you would know that the school is NOT responsible for practice transportion!!!!!

jackfruitpaper833
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jackfruitpaper833 07/11/08 - 11:16 am
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Yep moonglo you are right,

Yep moonglo you are right, the board only takes them to the games and bring them back, it's up to the student/parent to get them to the school before the game and pick them up after the game, or walk like some do.

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