MANCHESTER BOARD OF SCHOOL COMMITTEE

					               MANCHESTER BOARD OF SCHOOL COMMITTEE
                  Information Technology Committee Meeting
                              September 14, 2010



       The Information Technology Committee met on Tuesday, September 14, at
5:00p.m. at City Hall in Manchester. Present were Chairman Katsiantonis and
Committee Members Briggs, Kelley, Beauchamp, and Dolman. Non-Committee
Member Beaudry was also present. Present from Administration were Supt. Brennan and
Business Administrator, Ms. DeFrancis. Ms. Greenspan, the interim IT Director for the
District, was also present.
       Chairman Katsiantonis presided and called the meeting to order. The clerk called
the roll. There was no public forum and there were no presentations.

ACTION SESSION
Job Description for IT Director
        Chairman Katsiantonis noted there were two examples of job descriptions for the
position of the IT Director. Supt. Brennan said one was developed and provided by the
Administration and one was provided by Comm. Briggs. He would encourage everyone
including members of the District‟s IT Department staff to respond to what would be
appropriate to have in the job description for the posting of the position of IT Director for
the District.
        Comm. Briggs said he reviewed what the Administration put together for a job
description and he thinks it is good. The creation of the requirements for the director
position is realistically the only input and control that the Committee has in this process.
The Committee wouldn‟t participate in the interview process. The job description would
be the filter by which the interviewing committee and the Administration would use to go
forward so it is something that is very important. The Committee should make sure that
the qualifications reflect what appropriate guidelines and directions and qualifications
that it would want. He said “to that end I think it is very important that they contain some
specific qualifications and some specific directions with respect to architecture in the
future because the cost of architecture and the cost of maintenance is in a sense limiting
us now. And with finite budgets, as we will always have, we have to be able to achieve
the technology objectives as articulated in the very thoughtful and recently-approved
District technology plan. I think being specific with respect to qualifications,
architectural experience and objectives, education, etc. is critical in this process. I did not
submit my copy of the job description with respect to saying this needs to be every line as
is but I would highlight some of the more important areas. Also, I went on line today to
one of the major job search engines and looked extensively at a number of positions for
IT Directors.” He distributed copies of a number of the examples he obtained.
        He said the examples do call for specific experiences with certain technology and
protocols etc. This gets very technical and very in-depth. It is important that whomever
is hired is hired with experience in certain areas and we have a comfort that they are
going to be able to architect a system for the classroom and understand the differences
between what is needed in the Administration office as compared to the classroom as



IT Committee                                  1                         September 14, 2010
compared to the language labs as compared to possibly the graphics‟ labs and that need
for special software packages. The arbitrary placement of the same software stack at
every location is enormously expensive. To Comm. Beaudry‟s point made at the last Full
Board meeting about the City charging $650 per seat for management is realistic when
you have this uniform, highest-level, software. Even though that might not have been
exactly what we have paid, that is what it has cost us because it hasn‟t been maintained
and we pay for it in terms of lack of productivity, an inability to provide education and an
inability to provide the services up time etc. Comm. Briggs said “I think we need to be
able to understand that there is a finite number of slices of configurations and someone
with the experience and skills to create that and implement them cost effectively and with
the common denominators that are there to do this efficiently and to be sustainable, and
in a way that we know that can be implemented. That‟s the difference in having some
requirements as opposed to some very high level objectives.”
        Chairman Katsiantonis said one question he has is how much money the District
has to pay for a person as the IT director. That is question #1. Ms. DeFrancis said Mr.
Smith‟s salary had been in the mid to high $70,000 range. Chairman Katsiantonis asked
if it was reasonable to think the District could find someone at that amount. Supt.
Brennan replied “no.”
        Comm. Briggs said “I can tell you realistically that the employment price for
someone of these qualifications is about $140,000 for the salary and the benefits. That‟s
with institutions. Here you would be subtracting out for a difference in salary or better
benefits and that would make it around the $105,000-$110,000 level. I would strongly
advise everyone that what we‟re looking for with this person is to save us money.” He
said “look here, we have some outstanding, young, future engineers, people who maintain
our systems now who we are committed to and we need to make sure that they are given
a professional practicum and they are developed in a way that it hasn‟t necessarily been
done to date. We need to make sure that we are moving towards architectures that are
more sustainable that we can do within our budget. I really hate to think about this in
terms of „let‟s get what we can‟ because then we shouldn‟t do anything. Rather than
doing the wrong thing, we shouldn‟t do anything. I understand there are constraints and
that is why I think it is important that we are not rushed in to making any decision until
we get a top-down plan. We need to get a plan that holds water and then to follow that
plan.”
        Comm. Beaudry said briefly looking at the documentation Comm. Briggs handed
out this evening, he likes the minimum qualifications of what is called „an operations
manager‟. He said “I honestly believe we have in-house personnel that could fill the
shoes of an operations manager. We could hire somebody that would be able to do the
networking or the other duties that Comm. Briggs is talking about. I honestly don‟t think
we‟re going to find somebody with the qualifications that are in this job description. And
to pay someone as much as we‟re paying our Superintendent isn‟t acceptable.
Personally, I would like to keep it in-house. I know when we talked at the IT Sub-
Committee level, even Ms. Angel said that they would have to hire 2 people if they took
over our IT. And she has 15 individuals over there that know how to do networking and
all of the other stuff that Comm. Briggs has been talking about. So, we should find what
2 people would have been hired for the City side to do this job and maybe hire them for
the School District side and keep the interim director right now and maybe have it as an



IT Committee                                 2                        September 14, 2010
operations manager and have them managing. And then we would find the people that
would actually go out to do the work that needs to be done. Going that route, maybe we
could find them for the money that we have available. To look at the job description that
we‟re looking for, I think it is going to be very difficult to find that. I don‟t want to spend
the kind of money that Comm. Briggs just mentioned when there was question that the
current IT people are getting paid too much yet we‟d be hiring somebody at $140,000.
My personal opinion is that is unacceptable.”
       Comm. Beauchamp said in quickly reviewing the information that Comm. Briggs
passed out he glanced at the qualifications and he has noticed that a Bachelor‟s degree in
computer science is what is required. With the Administration‟s proposed job description
the requirement is for a Masters degree in computer science. He said “to me it looks as
though the market is telling us a Bachelor‟s degree would be sufficient for that position.”
Comm. Briggs said “I disagree. We need an architect. What we‟re trying to do is here is
look at the people that we have and not hire 6 more.” Comm. Beauchamp said “you just
handed us information that says a Bachelor‟s degree in computer science is the
qualification.” Comm. Briggs said “read some more.”
       Comm. Dolman said “I agree that we should not rush the decision-making process.
With this information we just got from Comm. Briggs, I have quickly perused it but I
would like time to peruse it more. Maybe what we should do is look at the different job
descriptions and take out and say what is important to us. I think Comm. Beaudry has a
good point too. Right now we‟re limited with our budget. Also, we‟re in a down
economy and there are people out there who need jobs. I think in the computer industry
there are openings and I think we can find somebody at a lower cost than what we would
have paid if we were in an up economy. Or maybe we should go the way that Comm.
Beaudry is saying; we have talented staff so we could give someone the job as operations
supervisor. That is something that is very important too. You need to have someone who
has supervisory experience beside the computer background and the engineering
background and all of that. They need to have some kind of supervisory experience.
Weighing all of that, let‟s not rush into a decision. Maybe we should all do homework
and mark down from all of the different paperwork that we have here what we think the
qualifications should be. For example, regarding education, should it be a Bachelor‟s
degree or should it be a Masters.”
       Chairman Katsiantonis said “I think we should make a decision today. We need
someone to be in charge to head the IT Department.” Comm. Dolman said “in the past
we have put people in acting positions and gave them a stipend to take over a supervisory
position while we were working out and fine-tuning a position or waiting for someone to
come in. If we feel it is necessary for us to have a supervisor in that department, then we
could do that. I‟m not sure how the Superintendent feels about that. I understand
someone is doing that right now to some extent so maybe we should continue to pay that
person.”
       Chairman Katsiantonis asked Supt. Brennan his thoughts. Supt. Brennan said “I
think we should have an interim. Fortunately, Paula Greenspan has taken the lead and
Brian and others have shared the load. They are not being compensated because we‟re
waiting for a decision or a recommendation from this group whether to go forward.
There is contractual language that talks about if Paula were identified as the person that it
is already set that there would be an increase of 5% to take on those jobs. There is



IT Committee                                  3                         September 14, 2010
language there already. I would say if that is the recommendation of this Committee and
we go forward, we shouldn‟t do anything other than follow what is in the collective
bargaining agreement.”
       Comm. Briggs said “I don‟t think that would be prudent at this time. I understand
the contract but I don‟t think it is prudent to be making any type of decision that involves
the implications of any contractual mechanism. Not at this time. I recognize that Paula
has done a very outstanding job. She is a very organized person and she is a very
responsible person and she so far has stepped up and filled the shoes as the IT
Department‟s director. I simply don‟t think it would be prudent at this time to make any
decision out of the need to make a decision. We‟ve seen cases before when we‟ve
temporarily given someone that stipend and then we‟ve made a long-term decision and
we‟re left having to carry that forward. I just don‟t think we should do that at this time.”
       Supt. Brennan asked “what do we do in the meantime in terms of providing this
direction and leadership in the IT Department? Paula has agreed for a short term to do
this without compensation at risk of working within the collective bargaining agreement.
We have a verbal understanding. If we were to go forward, I think time would be very
limited for her to extend that time. And if she refuses, where would I go next? I
certainly cannot provide the leadership within that Department unless we‟re just going to
be talking about status quo and maintenance of effort to date. I need some direction. I
understand what you‟re saying. We have had cases where we have filled in positions and
we also have cases where we haven‟t done that. I just need some direction in terms of
leadership of that Department.”
       Comm. Briggs said “I would like to clarify. As an interim, I have no problem in
recognizing Paula‟s stepping up to the plate. I do have a problem with the next step of
invoking the contractual mechanism or with a raise or with any formal appointment. I
think if we‟re willing to continue this interim recognizing her as taking interim
responsibility, that is one thing, but I would be opposed to making any change given
other situations that would involve a raise of anybody at this time.”
       Comm. Beaudry said “I have to agree with the Superintendent. This happens all
the time. When we lost our HR Director, we had the second in charge step up as the
interim until we found another HR Director. Paula is the next one in line. She should be
the interim and she should have the authority as the interim. I think she is highly
respected by her peers and she knows what she is doing. She is organized and she knows
what has to be done. I think it would be a normal thing to have her officially as the
interim so that everybody knows who they have to go to while we‟re seeking either a new
director or possibly other staff that can augment what we need in the IT Department. I‟m
still not sold whether we need to go out to hire an official director or not. We might need
some individuals that are highly qualified in networking and in other issues that Comm.
Briggs has stated and we might be able to get those individuals between the $40,000-
$75,000 range. I believe the last salary for the IT Director was $77,000. We usually start
a new director $5,000 less than what the current one was taking. So, you‟re looking at
around the $72,000 range if we were to hire a director. How many other individuals
could we hire with that amount of money outside of the title of director? That is up for
question. I think we have to continue to keep moving forward. I was over at the new
building and there is 300+ wires sticking out of the walls that have to be done. I have to
commend Brian Demers for all of the work that he has done in getting us over to our new



IT Committee                                 4                        September 14, 2010
facility. There is a lot of work to be done and someone has to direct it. Just leaving
things willy-nilly is wrong for the IT Department.”
        Chairman Katsiantonis said he agreed. He said “we should find out if Paula would
stay with the same salary or would there be an increase…….” Supt. Brennan interjected
“there is a collective bargaining agreement. Paula does not have an opportunity in the
long term to reject that. She is willing to do this very short term in order to maintain her
status and the integrity of the collective bargaining agreement. If we were to recommend
any person in the Department or for Paula to be named as the interim and it was going to
be anywhere from 15 to 30 days beyond that, we would have to comply with the
collective bargaining agreement. That would in fact result in an increase as outlined in
the collective bargaining agreement and it would be deserved, if we‟re going to do that.
If we‟re not going to do that, then we need to say that we‟re going to go out to look for an
IT director and do that. We cannot ask Paula to step up and give of her time for an
extended period of time because that is in violation of the collective bargaining
agreement. We need to keep that in mind. So, it‟s either don‟t do that or we do it and we
have that person in place, in this case, Paula. That would be the issue.”
       Chairman Katsiantonis said “so we need to make a decision.” Supt. Brennan
replied “yes, sir.” Comm. Briggs stated “we do not.” Comm. Beaudry said “one thing
we could do if Paula and the union are willing is we could re-negotiate. That is always
something that can be done. Again, I‟m just throwing that out there. I agree that we
should be following the collective bargaining agreement. But if all sides are open to
opening that agreement……” Supt. Brennan said “we had a meeting; Paula, myself, and
a representative of the Association, and I believe they are going to follow the rules and
they are not going to re-negotiate.” Comm. Beaudry said “and I don‟t blame them. But
something has got to be done. We just can‟t continue to keep moving the way we are.”
       Comm. Briggs said “so, we‟ve been put in this position by the constraints of a
collective bargaining agreement and in the context of those constraints are in the existing
organizations of that. I think we have the option to rethink or change how we are
organized. Alignment with the City could be one change. We can rethink this to
determine whether or not we continue to warrant a director or maybe we warrant a
coordinator instead. And possibly in the future we would seek to hire a chief engineer or
an architect for a different position. I strongly would disagree to elevate anyone at this
time by title and certainly by salary. And that has nothing to do with individuals or the
skills they may have. I think we need to have the breathing room to think through this
and not be constrained by labor pressure or any other pressure. I think in the next few
weeks with the Superintendent‟s leadership we can get to that point of constructing a
vision in terms of expectations and options. I feel that we are being boxed in by a labor
agreement. I think the appropriate option is to change the organization.”
       Comm. Beaudry said “I totally disagree. That‟s all I can say. To me that sounds
like Comm. Briggs is actually union busting at that point, for lack of better terms. I don‟t
like the terminology that „we‟re being boxed in by the union‟ because the union is not
forcing anybody to do anything. As an organization, we have to move forward. We have
a collective bargaining agreement that the Board voted on. So we have to abide by the
agreement we supported.” Chairman Katsiantonis said “and we have to make a decision
today.”




IT Committee                                 5                        September 14, 2010
        Comm. Beaudry said “continuing another month is not helping us in our goal to
achieve what we need to achieve.” Comm. Briggs said “we can at this time say that we
will not have a position of director. We have a very small group as it is today. It
warrants a coordinator. It doesn‟t really warrant a director until such time that we have a
broader vision for this and we are empowered in that way. I vote that we should
reconsider the organization.”
        Comm. Beauchamp asked “can I get an explanation as to why we need to move on
this tonight.” Supt. Brennan said “because we‟re running out of time in terms of the
informal agreement that I have with Paula.” Comm. Beauchamp asked “and what is the
deadline?” Supt. Brennan said “actually we were hoping it would have been resolved
after last night‟s meeting.” Comm. Beauchamp asked “is there a date that you‟ve
discussed?” Supt. Brennan said “I think it was up to the end of October. I would have to
sign an agreement with her.”
        Ms. Greenspan said “I would like to comment. My job hasn‟t gone away. My job
still has to get done. I‟m doing both.”
        Comm. Briggs said “in industry, in business, this is something that happens every
single day where there is a loss of someone and someone is given a title promotion. That
doesn‟t mean a salary promotion. Someone has to step up to the plate for a period of
time until the dust settles for the organization to figure out what is in the best interest of
the organization and the investors or the customers or whomever. I think that having to
operate within the artificial constraints of education, labor, or whatever, I think a lot of
the people in the community are sensitive to that at this time. I think we have constraints
and if we feel those are true constraints I think our only objective is to proceed with
changing how we‟re organized. Otherwise, let‟s just try to find a way to step to the plate
without any formal changes, certainly without any salary changes. I fully appreciate that
the Superintendent, as he does every day, walks a very delicate, thin line dealing with the
whimsical demands of the various Board members and the realistic challenges he faces
managing a District with 16,000 kids in the District. He is just trying to walk between
the lines there. But, in my mind, it seems that if those constraints exist then the right
thing to do is to take this opportunity today to say that we‟re going to re-organize and not
require that we have a director because we need a plan that warrants these constraints and
we don‟t have one.”
        Chairman Katsiantonis asked “then who is going to be the director?” Comm.
Briggs said “we don‟t have to have a director. With the people that we have, we need a
coordinator. We don‟t have a bunch of doctors and a bunch of nurses looking for who is
the next patient to coordinate some activities like that. We have a bunch of guys back
there who are almost autonomous. They‟re all doing a very wonderful job.” Chairman
Katsiantonis said “as a business owner, I know you need to have someone at the top of
the line to watch everything. Everyone can be good and everyone can do their job but if
you don‟t have someone to tell you what to do and you don‟t have someone to be the
director you don‟t have someone making sure that the job is getting done and dealing
with what are the problems.” Comm. Briggs said “we have a person to do that. We have
a foreman over here, we don‟t need a director until we have a plan. We have a foreman.
We don‟t need a director. We need to pay the person as a foreman and not as a director.”
        Comm. Dolman said “my feeling is we‟re all making some valid points. I think
maybe we need to look at a re-structuring. That is up to this Committee to do that. That



IT Committee                                  6                         September 14, 2010
is what we have been assigned to do; determine how do we want the IT Department to
look for the future and whether we want a director or a coordinator or whatever. The
truth of the matter is Paula is doing 2 jobs. She is doing her job and she is doing Kevin‟s
job. Somehow we need to do something. If you say don‟t do anything then she goes
back to doing her job and who takes over the responsibilities of what Kevin used to do?
That‟s the question. We can only do so much. I don‟t want to say there are constraints
with the collective bargaining agreement. That is there for every department. Every
department of the School District and of the City has a bargaining agreement. The
question is she can only do this for so long before the bargaining agreement is violated.
So who takes over those responsibilities while we‟re sitting here? I agree about not
rushing because we want to make the right decision on how this looks for the future and
we want to do it right. We have the opportunity to do it right, so let‟s do it right, but what
do we do in the meantime. That‟s my question.”
       Comm. Kelley said “we don‟t have a lot of options in front of us. If we‟re going to
continue to ask this person to step up with the job that she is doing, by contract we have
to compensate her. If we‟re going to ask her not to do it, then we need to figure out a job
description right away and hire somebody. The timetable on this has lapsed.” Supt.
Brennan said “no, Paula has agreed to go through the month of October in this dual role.
At the end of October, unless we change that and provide a stipend, the additional
funding, she will stop doing it. She won‟t do it on a voluntary basis as she is now.”
Comm. Kelley said “so for the next 30 days or so we‟re getting a really great deal. Thank
you, Paula.” Supt. Brennan said “we‟ve gotten more than a great deal for the past few
weeks.” Comm. Kelley said “you‟ve been doing it since Kevin left and that has been
over a month.” Ms. Greenspan said “Kevin left in July.”
       Chairman Katsiantonis said “we used to have 6 people working in the Department
and now we have 5 so we need to hire someone as soon as possible.” Comm. Kelley said
she agreed. She said “right now we‟re going to continue to ask Paula to do what she is
doing and we will have to know by the end of October if we‟re going to ask her to
continue what she is doing and give her a stipend. We need to figure out how we‟re
going to re-align the IT Department, if we‟re going to re-align it. I don‟t like the way that
sounds because it sounds a little bit like union busting and that is not my intention at all.
But we need to find out what we‟re going forward to do. We need to look at what are the
pros and cons with hiring a director, and we need to find out what the pros and cons are
with hiring a coordinator or an architect and figure out what is the best alignment. Supt.
Brennan, that has to come from you and Paula and we need some guidance with that with
the pros and the cons. We need to know what the salary implications will be and where
we are with a salary. If we go with a director, the last person that had the job wasn‟t
qualified to be doing this job. It is my understanding that he took a job for more pay. So,
is the mid-to-high $70,000 the salary? If you ask Comm. Briggs that isn‟t even
reasonable but twice that is what people sometimes get paid for that position. Those
things need to go along with the recommendation that is brought forward to the
Committee along with what the pay scale would be and how much money we have to
spend. We have a shortage of teachers. We know that. We have other areas of need but
every time we talk about IT it gets put aside because we have other needs and constraints
in this District. That‟s not going to do anymore. We‟re going to have to bite the bullet
and do something about IT because I think we all agree we can‟t let it fail. If it fails, then



IT Committee                                  7                         September 14, 2010
the Mayor will look at us and say we should have consolidated. We can‟t sit around this
table and start pushing paper around. We have to make sure that this succeeds and we
need to do it quickly. My recommendation at this point is to ask Paula whether she
would continue doing what she is doing until the end of October when we would
definitely have some sort of an idea what we‟re going to do. And I recommend that we
meet more often because this is very important that we don‟t let this fail.”
       Chairman Katsiantonis asked Supt. Brennan if it would be a good idea to wait until
next month on this matter. Supt. Brennan said “I think it would help the situation if we
have more meetings. I think you need to have more meetings so you and I can get a
better sense of what you‟re looking for. We have 2 job descriptions to choose from.
These were created by us looking at job descriptions throughout other districts as well as
on line. I do not have the expertise to say this is what it is. I was happy when I saw what
Comm. Briggs submitted and that there are some comparable items here. In the short
term, I think we should take advantage of Paula‟s willingness to do this. Absolutely we
have to do that but we have to make a decision prior to the last Board meeting of October
because any action that would be recommended needs to be acted on by the Board to
authorize the creation of the interim position if Paula is named interim and to affect the
salary. There are many things that we have to do. Paula agreeing to go until the end of
the month of October is very helpful but there is a lot more for this Committee to do in
terms of developing a job description and also determining the salary or do we look at the
re-organization piece. I think that is probably the most critical question now. Are we
talking about replacing the IT Director or are we talking about re-structuring the
department in some way? I would recommend against the notion of a coordinator
because in my opinion it would be perceived as a way of circumventing the rules, so to
speak, around the directorship. I have learned how corporations work. In education we
have specific collective bargaining agreements with specific classifications and
memberships. If we suggest to someone that they are going to be a coordinator but do the
director‟s work, that would not fare well for us. So as a Committee you need to help me
make that decision. I think you have to make a decision about taking advantage of what
Paula is offering and then set up a couple of more meetings before the middle of October
and really clearly define this. And you need to establish salary and/or develop a re-
structuring pattern.”
       Comm. Kelley suggested scheduling another Committee meeting before the next
scheduled Full Board meeting on September 27. The Committee agreed to schedule a
special meeting of the IT Committee for Monday, September 27, at 5:00p.m. prior to the
Board meeting set for 7:00p.m. that evening.
       Supt. Brennan said he would encourage what Comm. Dolman suggested about
doing the homework to take a look at these job descriptions and identify what the
members think should be included. In the meantime he would be seeking some expert
advice outside of the District in making a recommendation to the Committee prior to the
next meeting.
       Comm. Briggs asked if Supt. Brennan could include in the agenda packet the
existing structure of the organization of the IT Department and what is the existing job
description of the IT Director. He said “One of the concerns that I have is going at a
problem from the bottom up instead of from the top down. It‟s easy to look at job
descriptions and get blinded by acronyms etc. Realistically that is the wrong approach.



IT Committee                                8                        September 14, 2010
We need to look at this from what is it we‟re building. We need to look at the various
points and how do they all flow and what are the skills flowing from them and what are
their importance. We need to rate things down fairly simply. It doesn‟t have to be that
challenging but we need to understand how these acronyms connect and why they‟re
important and why they‟re critical to us and what we are expecting them to do for us.”
       Supt. Brennan said “with all due respect, I don‟t know what tutoring we can
provide to everyone. I know what my skill level is in understanding some of those
acronyms. Clarifications would be helpful. I don‟t know everyone‟s background but I
believe that with the exception of Comm. Briggs there is probably a less than 50% level
of understanding and appreciation. Perhaps the next thing that we need to do is to bring
in an expert; someone who can talk the language and explain that to us, particularly as it
relates to a school district application of that. Or just in general what IT should bring. As
I‟ve said before, I get concerned about how we introduce IT in school districts. We don‟t
have that bigger picture because we typically don‟t have the architectural design and
engineer type of thinking. If that is what you would like me to do I will try to find 1 or 2
people and bring them to the next meeting to help talk about this.” The Committee
agreed that was a good idea.
       Comm. Briggs said “we‟re looking for a visionary or a consultant, not a vendor.”
Supt. Brennan said “it would not be a vendor.” Comm. Briggs said “we don‟t want a
salesman saying this is my product and this is how to solve your problems.” Supt.
Brennan agreed.
       Comm. Beaudry said “I don‟t know if it would be too quick to do in 2 weeks but if
they could come up with a comprehensive plan on where IT is going to be in the next
year, 5 years, etc. I know there was a plan shelved somewhere that maybe we could dust
off and have the Committee look at a long-term plan of what do we expect our IT
Department to look like in a year and 5 years from now. And we would look at our
existing employees and what we need to augment to get the goal accomplished.” Supt.
Brennan said “we have a District technology plan that was approved by the State.”
Comm. Beaudry said “so let‟s take a look at what we have for existing employees and
what we need to augment with our existing employees to get that plan accomplished. If
that means we need an engineer, then we‟ll go out to look for an engineer. I know we
throw a lot of big terms around here but I look at it as we need someone to go out to do
the work. Even if we hired a „director‟ it is going to have to be a „working director‟ for
the District because we can‟t have someone like Jennie Angel who basically works with
the Aldermen and directs. She is not out in the field doing any work. Our director was
doing field work also. One other thing, I‟m a bottom up guy and not a top down. I think
you have to have a foundation to build on. You know top management always looks at
things through the rosy glasses. I know on the Fire Service they have bought fire trucks
without talking to the guys that use them and then the fire truck didn‟t fit in the fire
station. You know, that does happen.”
       Comm. Kelley asked that Supt. Brennan contact other school districts that are of a
similarly large size as Manchester to speak with their superintendents about what they
have for IT Departments and what they have for their IT plan and what their structure is.
That information might be valuable also. Supt. Brennan agreed.




IT Committee                                 9                         September 14, 2010
INFORMATION SESSION
Architectural Design for ASPEN System
Parent Portal Format
Access Protocol for ASPEN
       Mr. Steven Lyle and Ms. Margaret Schnibbe, representatives from ASPEN were
present at the meeting. Mr. Lyle distributed a handout regarding a “Technical
Architecture Recommendation‟. He said the application is completely independent of the
type of operating system that you choose to do. Right now the District is using Microsoft
Windows so that goes along with their recommendation. Comm. Briggs asked “so this is
all independent like a PHP or something?” Mr. Lyle said “no, it‟s JAVA.”
       Mr. Lyle said after ASPEN‟s Director of Development took a look at the service
that Manchester has and what is its exact configuration and all that, it was felt that it was
appropriately sized to manage rolling out the portal. They have been working with
another district in another state that rolled out the parent portal that has the same servers
and roughly the same level of equipment as the Manchester School District. They have
about 12,000 students and they just have 3 servers. It‟s a level of hardware that is
capable of managing the portal. Mr. Lyle said “what this recommendation is doing really
is 2 things. One, if you did decide that you wanted to purchase additional servers,
according to this recommendation, it would provide the District an additional level of
comfort that you will be able to handle the load regardless of when the peak times are or
how many people might be logging in. The other aspect is that once you open it up to the
community there does end up being a bit higher expectation for the availability of the
application. With some districts when they open it up, they get more concerned about
having 2 servers in case one does go down. Or they have a back-up data base server in
case one goes down. It would be to improve the availability of the application and
provide some fault tolerance. The second aspect of this proposal is it would provide you
quite a bit of head-room, so to speak, for performance. It would take you quite a way
into the future. It would also provide some fault tolerance or some high availability that
the District doesn‟t have currently in its architecture.”
       Comm. Beauchamp asked for an explanation of „fault tolerance‟. Mr. Lyle said it
was if there is a failure of an application server or some other server there is another that
takes on the load. Comm. Beauchamp said “so it‟s a back-up.” Mr. Lyle said “it‟s not a
back-up. There are a couple of different ways of doing fault tolerance. One approach is
where you have 2 servers running simultaneously with a load balance in between. What
that does is users that are connecting to the application are handed off to one of the 2
servers but if one of them goes down those users can be re-routed to the one that is still
up. That is a level of fault tolerance called „active/active‟. You have 2 different
simultaneously run active servers. He said “currently you have a data base server, and
we think it is appropriately sized for your District, what the recommendation has here is
if you were to purchase three servers we would recommend having 2 of the same new
hardware and taking your existing application server, which is a few years old but not
really old by any standard and it is certainly very usable, but to take that machine and
employ it as your back-up data base server. Speaking of fault tolerance, it is an
active/passive. So you have one data base server that is always providing the application
but you have a second one that is sitting as a mirror or a copy or a replicator data base




IT Committee                                 10                        September 14, 2010
that could take over if the primary data base goes down. That is called an active/passive
fault tolerance.”
       Mr. Lyle said “the 2nd page shows the recommendation. You have a data base
server and you have a current report server that has 8 gigibytes of RAM. We would
recommend bumping that up another 8 gig. We would recommend 2 new application
servers. These are fairly low-cost items; about $3,000-$4,000 per server. And the
recommendation would be to get a load-balancer. In the years since the District
purchased its original load-balancers, the specs with those models have increased. A load
balancer is required when you have 2 application servers.”
       Mr. Lyle said “if you want to look at this and ask what is really required to roll out
the portal, absolutely none of this is.” He said “our Director of Development who
manages our own data center, has said that more than likely with your current
configuration you would be completely fine. If you want to say that you‟d now have the
public involved with this so you want to make sure that even at 11:00 a.m. things would
be running perfectly smoothly, then we would recommend a second applications server.
When you add a second applications server, you need a load balancer. At a minimum,
those are 2 things that would be part of this recommendation.”
       He said “a 3rd piece of the recommendation is, if you are interested in having a
back-up data base server what we would recommend is to get 2 application servers.
They‟re the newer hardware. Employ them as the front-end that you‟re connecting. And
take your existing application server and re-purpose it as a back-up data server.”
Chairman Katsiantonis asked “and what type of a cost would there be for that?” Mr. Lyle
said “I don‟t know what kind of SQL server license you have, but it is not a live data base
server. You‟re always going to have one that a user is connecting to. My understanding
is the SQL server license for that would probably be nothing. And because it is a mirror,
or a copy, of a cluster, a cluster is where you have active data base servers and you share
the load, you don‟t have to purchase a new license for a SQL server.”
       Comm. Briggs asked “do you happen to know offhand which data bases your
product is compatible with?” Mr. Lyle said “we support Oracle, it‟s a more expensive
sequel server and it is what the District currently has, and MySQL which is an open-
source data base. Minus QL is actually what we use in our data center.” Comm. Briggs
asked “do you support PostgreSQL as well?” Mr. Lyle said “we do not support that.”
       Comm. Beaudry said he appreciates getting this information. He said he was told
during a meeting of the IT Sub-Committee that we could get this accomplished for about
$15,000. He asked “is that number still about right?” Mr. Lyle said “I would say that
number could be on the high end. I went on line today and spec-ed out those servers and
they‟re about $4,700 with the recommended configuration. The specifics of what we
would recommend for those power servers are on the bottom of page 2 of the handout;
indicating the exact process of speed, how much RAM, the speed of the RAM, how much
storage, and the rate of configuration.”
       Comm. Beaudry said “the money is in the budget. Looking at the budget that was
handed out at that meeting I think there was $50,000 in the budget for equipment. Now
that we‟re moving over to the new facility and Brian is going to be setting things up, to
me it would be the most opportune time to get the servers in and at least get us up and
running where we can have a back-up in case something happens to the primary server.




IT Committee                                 11                        September 14, 2010
We would have the capabilities so that we won‟t be stalled once parents start getting on
this thing.” Chairman Katsiantonis asked Ms. DeFrancis “do we have the money?”
        Ms. DeFrancis said “we do have $50,000 in the budget for equipment; however,
that is for all technology equipment so we have utilized some of those funds already. I
would have to check to see how much is left in that account. That is for any laptops that
need to be replaced or for any computers that need to be replaced if we don‟t utilize BAE
for certain classrooms. We need to keep in mind that $50,000 is not just sitting there but
that is money that is utilized throughout the year for equipment.”
        Comm. Beaudry said “I don‟t want to beat this horse any more than it has been
beaten but this is something that has to get done by February 1. If we‟re saying that our
servers can do the work but we won‟t really know until parents start getting on line etc.
why wouldn‟t we at this point in time when the work is being done to get the servers
implemented into our new facility we don‟t do it all at one time and get it done. To me, it
seems the simplest way of doing it. If there is money available in that account, I
understand it is for use District-wide, but this is part of the District and at least in my eyes
this is a top priority at this time to get this parent portal up and running.” Chairman
Katsiantonis agreed and said “it is a top priority.” He said “we‟ll ask Ms. DeFrancis to
find out exactly how much money is left in that account.”
        Comm. Briggs said “I think we have crossed the realm into designing by
committee. I think it would be more appropriate for Ms. Greenspan and the IT team to
come back to give us a detailed plan of what to do. They know the condition of our
existing servers. Let‟s prioritize those things. I don‟t think we have to rush this. I think
part of the challenge with something like this is that the initial decision you make on that
platform, on that data base, the things that have the highest licensing costs, you‟re not
going to really change those. So you really need to look at those hard to make sure that
those are the right decisions you want to go with. Those really do dictate the flexibility
that you have in the future with upgrading and continuing. So, I think we need some
breathing room in that. Let‟s not rush into anything now.”
        Chairman Katsiantonis asked if by the Committee‟s next meeting there would be
an answer to the questions regarding the recommendation. Supt. Brennan replied “yes.”
        Comm. Dolman said “is there any money left in what we got for the loan from the
Mayor for textbooks etc. Wasn‟t part of that for technology also?” Supt. Brennan said
“yes.” Comm. Briggs said “it was for classroom technology.” Comm. Dolman said “if
that is for classroom technology it can be used all the way around then we could use the
money for classrooms‟ technology and we could use the money in the budget to do this.”
Comm. Briggs said “I think the LCD projectors would fit the bill but ASPEN does not.
The reason being this is not used as part of a lecture or…..” Comm. Dolman said “I
understand that. What I‟m saying is if we only have $50,000 in the technology account
in the budget for everything if I understood Ms. DeFrancis correctly, if we have a
technology part with the loan we have we could use money from that account to do the
replacement of laptops for schools or other orientated stuff for schools and that way we
don‟t have to touch that money in the budget for that and we could use it for this.”
        Ms. DeFrancis said “the loan was $3.2million and the balance as I understand it
could be utilized for classroom technology. We have to submit to the Aldermen anything
that we have purchased within 10 days so we have to make sure that it is for classroom
technology that we‟re purchasing something.” Supt. Brennan said “it‟s a matter of



IT Committee                                  12                         September 14, 2010
submitting after you have purchased it, but it has to be for that particular, identified
product or activity that they are approving.”
       Comm. Dolman said “right now the technology budget you have for $50,000 is
used to do that. If we need a laptop for a classroom or whatever, it is used for that, if I
understand correctly.” Ms. DeFrancis said “it is also used for administration computers.”
Comm. Dolman said “but it‟s also used for the schools.” Ms. DeFrancis said that was
correct. Comm. Dolman said “what I‟m saying is if we take out the school stuff and use
the loan for that……” Supt. Brennan interjected “part of this process is you have to do it
after the fact. You have to submit to the BMA what you spent the money on. It‟s not
that you can set aside $13,000-$15,000 to say this is what we want to get or why we want
to hold on to it. The process that we followed with the textbooks is we ordered them and
paid for them and then within 10 days we had to present an invoice indicating what we
spent it on. Do you see the dilemma?”
       Comm. Dolman said “if we know for sure it is school oriented…..” Supt. Brennan
said “that‟s the difficulty. We cannot project what those needs may be unless we do
know what the needs are that would total that. I think we need to get clarification. Every
time a question has come up about the legitimacy of that falling under the loan I have
gone and asked for direction and I would be happy to do that again if that is what the
Committee would like me to do.”
       Comm. Beaudry said he agrees with Comm. Dolman‟s analogy of the loan. He
said there are computers needed in the business labs at Memorial High School. If there is
money left over in that loan we should be able to get some computers for those business
labs at Memorial.
       Chairman Katsiantonis asked if there was any final information regarding the items
on the agenda. This meeting needed to end because the Athletic Committee meeting
needed to commence. Mr. Lyle referred to the 3rd page of the handout that had been
distributed to the Committee. He said at the Committee‟s last meeting there had been
some discussion about what other options the District could look at. One of them could
be hosting by other companies, either local companies or private hosting corporations.
He included a list of what to look for in someone who may propose to host the services
for the District and he included the kinds of things the District could be asking of those
people. In terms of the servers that would be purchased there are various levels of
Microsoft Windows server operating systems. Mr. Lyle said they always recommend a
web operating system. All that is required is the Microsoft Windows web edition for the
recommended servers. Comm. Briggs said “you‟re saying it‟s fairly agnostic and they
would work under Linux, Apache, etc.” Mr. Lyle agreed.

OTHER BUSINESS
      Comm. Beaudry said he brought an item forward at last night‟s Board meeting and
he had been directed to bring it to the IT Committee. He said Memorial High School‟s
business department‟s computers are very old. He doesn‟t know if there is going to be
some means to upgrade computers District-wide. He knows that some schools have
received BAE computers and others have received new computers. He would like to see
things set up similar to how the Athletic Department deals with getting new uniforms etc.
Each school rotates and gets updated uniforms and equipment on a yearly basis.




IT Committee                                13                        September 14, 2010
       Ms. Greenspan said she hadn‟t been aware of how donations of computers worked.
She spoke with Gary Hunter. People from the District need to go to the location to pick
up the donated computers. From what she learned from Gary, each school is informed
when there are computers available and it depends on the school whether they want to
send some people to pick them up. Her understanding is this has been going on for
several years. She said “we have to start with the principals to find out if they‟re willing
to send people down to BAE to pick them up.”
       Comm. Beaudry said “hopefully, that will happen. What I saw was there are 4 labs
at Memorial and there are maybe 26-30 computers in each lab and every one of those
computers had been donated to the school. Nothing was owned by the Manchester
School District, even the tables and chairs that the students sit at and on were donated.
So, at some point in time, if we‟re going to have an IT budget we should start budgeting
as we do for everything else where we have a rotating basis. If BAE runs dry, I don‟t
how long they‟re going to continue to keep donating computers, but we have to keep up
with technology in our schools. Ten and twelve year old computers are not working out.
The computers the students have at home are newer than what they have at school. They
can‟t open up the software that they‟re using at home. There is a problem there. That
might be an issue for another day but I would like to see something where they would
have an opportunity to get some upgraded computers down there.”
       Chairman Katsiantonis said this would have to be an issue for another day.

ADJOURNMENT
      Comm. Dolman made a motion, seconded by Comm. Briggs, to adjourn the
meeting. The motion passed by unanimous vote. The meeting was adjourned at 7:07p.m.

A TRUE RECORD ATTEST:



Suzanne O. Sears
Clerk of the Board




IT Committee                                14                        September 14, 2010

				
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