Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools Superintendent Francis Scruci cited cost savings and increased efficiencies as reasons the district would outsource technology beginning July 1.
During an April 30 special meeting, the school board approved abolishing seven full-time positions and suspending contracts of those employees effective July 31.
The affected employees are Joseph Schiska, director of technology; Anthony Chaney, network administrator; Shane Hull, data and technical specialist; Robert Julius, network engineer; Brian Roberts, data processing/network specialist; Muhammed Mukti, technician; and Glen (Keith) Sparks, technician.
The board also approved a five-year contract to outsource technology with Epiphany Management Group of Akron, effective July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2018.
The five-year contract will cost the district $2,397,760. The first year will cost $508,000, with remaining years at $472,440 annually. The monthly payment during the first year will be $33,866 and $31,496 monthly thereafter.
No discussion occurred among board members or staff members concerning the action items.
Scruci told ThisWeek the change has the potential to save close to $1 million over the next five years. He said the district has been talking to Epiphany for six to seven months.
"It isn't a decision that came quickly," he said. "We wanted to make sure our current employees had an opportunity for employment (with Epiphany)."
Scruci said the decision isn't all about cost, although the resolution to abolish the IT department points to that cause.
The resolution states, "It has become necessary to reduce the number of employees in the instructional and/or technology department for financial conditions affecting the district and/or financial reasons and/or reasons of economy ... because the district's most recent five-year forecast shows a general-fund operating deficit in fiscal years 2013-17 and an absolute deficit beginning in fiscal year 2015."
Scruci said it's more than dollar figures, though.
"It's more of looking at the vision of where we want to go as a district and taking existing resources and maximizing those for kids and staff," he said. "We've got kids being home-schooled on online academies currently. I'd like to see if we can bring those kids back to the district. If we provide them with opportunities, they could get a diploma from Lincoln High and could bring revenue back to the district."
He said the change would improve efficiencies, provide professional development for staff and structure a plan to move forward with technology as an instructional tool benefiting the district.
"I want our district to be a leader, and I think this is an opportunity to take the lead," Scruci said. "As finances continue to be an issue, it's an efficiency to bring opportunities to kids. This is an opportunity for our people to not only secure employment but grow professionally."
Suranjan Shome, Epiphany president and CEO, told ThisWeek his business provides custom solutions for about 50 school districts in Ohio.
"Our model is helping schools around the state implement a solution that addresses financial challenges but more importantly gives them a way to address the complex IT needs as a result of ODE directives and the explosive advances in technology," Shome said. "I think we're unique in our approach."
He estimates five or six Epiphany employees would work on site during the school year, with chief operating officer Terry Mulhern as the local contact.
According to the contract, PSAT (Plan Support Advance Transform) is the Epiphany approach to help client districts.
Epiphany starts by developing a strategic technology plan with clear and measurable goals. The plan will focus on increasing utilization of technology, reducing IT support costs and helping districts develop into a 21st-century learning and teaching organization.
As the plan is developed and implemented, day-to-day support continues.
As existing systems are utilized to their maximum and end users have confidence they are well-supported, the next step is one of advanced, positive change, helping those open to change to advance and improve what they do currently in every aspect of the school operation, according to the contract.
Finally, according to the contract, transformation starts to occur when clear plans and solid execution on the basics are established.
"Parents, donors, alumni (etc.) begin to see and understand what needs to occur to keep up with changing needs and supports the transformation to a true 21st-century organization," the contract states.
Either party may terminate the agreement by giving a 60-day written notice to the other party.