Bexley's school board commended district technology director Paul Ross on Monday for strides his department has made over the past year.

Bexley's school board commended district technology director Paul Ross on Monday for strides his department has made over the past year.

In a presentation, Ross told the board that he and the technology staff made several upgrades to the district's computer system, making it run more efficiently to save electricity usage and staff time.

"After years of nothing but hearing complaints, I've heard nothing but positive things about the direction we're heading and already what's been accomplished," board vice president Andrew Sutter told Ross, who began working with the district in August 2007.

"We've gone from a very difficult and strained situation to one that has a very bright future," Sutter said.

In spring 2007, a consulting firm told the board that the district's technology system was designed to be closed, which created problems with using the Internet and Web-based programs and services, Superintendent Michael Johnson previously told ThisWeek. The trend in computer educational materials requires Web access, he said. The consultants recommended the district create a technology director's position and hire someone to bring its systems up to date.

Ross said changes made include utilizing Thin Client technology, which allows several monitors and keyboards to work off a host computer; updating systems to run Microsoft Windows 2003; upgrading the district's library catalog and cafeteria systems; decreasing the number of servers needed from 28 to 12; developing documentation of the district's technology system; implementing an exchange of ideas between the department's staff and the teaching staff; and creating a computer replacement program in which systems will be retired after the extended warranty runs out.

The district's e-mail system also is in the process of being updated, Ross said.

In other business, the board:

Announced board members will be given e-mail addresses through the school district that will be listed on the district's Web site.

"We've had some comments in relation to 'We wish you had e-mails,' " board president Diane Peterson said. "We've decided it's a good way to connect with the public."

Accepted a book donation for the high school library from resident and former board member Bob Duffy. Duffy said he donated the book "Jews and Judaism in a Midwestern Community Columbus Ohio" by Marc Lee Raphael to commemorate Duffy's friend and fellow board member, William R. Roth.

"It's relative that Bexley figures very strongly in this (book), because Bexley was the first nonrestrictive suburb in Columbus, Ohio -- about the late 1920s -- that Jewish families could buy lots here and build here," he said. "(The book) is absolutely fascinating."

Bexley schools' science team returned this week from the Christopher Columbus Awards in Florida, having won the top award of a $25,000 community grant. Team members performed their winning presentation for the school board Monday.

The team consists of Nan Boyle, Miranda Gammage and Meghan Heckman, all Bexley Middle School students, and Hannah Hood of Canal Winchester, a student at Madison Christian School and the daughter of Maryland Elementary principal Jon Hood. The team was coached by Maryland Elementary teacher Lindsay Young.

The competition required students to find solutions to problems in their community. The team researched the depletion of fossil fuels and found that methane gas is a byproduct of decomposing organic matter. They learned that landfills in the area are developing ways to use the methane as a fuel source.

The team will use the grant to work with Kurtz Brothers Composting, which is building a facility that will convert the methane from a local landfill into energy for the building, Young said. The grant also will be used to educate the community on the benefits of burning methane as an alternative to fossil fuels, she said.