Insight into Metro Schools IT

There appears to be some confusion regarding the Metro Schools move to our own Active Directory system.  MNPS and Metro ITS meet regularly, work together on multiple projects and jointly want to create the most effective, efficient, secure environment while using tax dollars carefully.

As Keith Durbin said during his budget presentation to Metro Council, there are two major considerations with networks: technical and policy.  Technically almost anything is possible. In the policy area, MNPS and ITS have not always been able to reconcile business needs, security, and user access. 

The district has spent $235,000 this year to purchase servers, software and transition consulting services to reduce redundancy in our system. Our first-year savings will be $265,000 compared to using the current ITS system. Beginning in 2013-14, our savings will be $500,000 annually and service to our schools and students will expand and improve.

  • Moving MNPS employee accounts from ITS domain servers to MNPS domain servers eliminates redundant systems.  Currently, there are two main domains for Metro Schools:  mnps.org, operated under ITS, and mnpsk12.org operated by Metro Schools.  These are parallel systems, created years ago when schools needed functionality not allowed under ITS security policies.  By moving all accounts to a single domain, MNPS technicians will no longer have to duplicate all their work on two domains, nor will ITS technicians.  The end result is a simplified process.
  • The system being moved from ITS to MNPS, Active Directory/Exchange Server, gives each user specific permissions and access to resources.  MNPS has multiple systems that require tiered access.  For example, Chancery, which is the official student information system, has access levels for teachers, counselors, principals and central administration.  Each user’s access is limited to the data and resources needed to perform each job.  This increases functionality and meets federal (FERPA) requirements for protecting student information.  Under ITS policy, MNPS cannot create new access levels or prioritize requests—and every change to one system must be duplicated on two systems.
  • Our nationally recognized data warehouse has three levels of access:  classroom (teacher), school (principal) and district wide.  The Mayor and the public have called on the district to expand collaboration with community organizations and a new community access level will allow nonprofits to make data-based decisions to benefit our young people. ITS security policies prevent this. 
  • ITS operates 10,059 user accounts and mailboxes for MNPS.  The pro-rated cost for each mailbox is $50 per user per year for an annual internal service fee of $501,332 for email.  We are moving to Microsoft 365, which is free to education users.  It provides email service and mailbox storage space for each account that is 100 times larger than Metro ITS provides. In addition, MNPS pays an internal service fee to ITS for functions like payroll, HR and purchasing (EBS).
  • Under current ITS policies, there is a one-way “trust” between ITS and MNPS.  This means data cannot flow freely between Metro ITS and MNPS.  This creates problems for teacher-student communication as teachers are on ITS (mnps.org) and students are on MNPS (mnpsk12.org).  Metro ITS has advised their security policies will not allow a two-way process with MNPS data.  As the district moves toward things like Sharepoint, this would make collaborative functions between students and teachers impossible without considerable, ongoing workaround costs.
  • There has been a lot of discussion regarding networks.  Metro ITS operates a network serving 59 departments and agencies with 12,704 connections.  MNPS operates a network serving 143 schools and other buildings with more than 95,000 connections. These are separate networks because they have very different requirements. 
    • The school network is designed to include children. Metro ITS security policies will not allow children on its network.
    • Federal e-rate funding, only available to schools and libraries, pays for almost 80% of the MNPS network cost.
  • The chart below compares the two departments using information from the ITS annual report.

  ITS            MNPS                

Department & Agencies Supported (Schools & Admin)

59

143

Operating Budget

$15M

$11M

Desktop/Laptop Computers

6,419

50,485

Obsolete computers replaced

1,736

>6,000

Stored Data (in terabytes)

143

170

Network Connections

12,704

~95,000

Phone Lines

9,032

1,895*

Cell Phones

2,500

731

Staff

134

109

*NOTE because MNPS utilizes VoIP, these lines serve over 9,000 actual phones

I hope that these points help clear up any misunderstanding regarding computer networks, duplication of services and accountability.  We understand the security requirements of the Police Department and other departments served by Metro ITS are very different from the requirements of the school district. MNPS and Metro ITS meet regularly and want to create sound, secure electronic environments while protecting the interests of the tax-paying public.

Fred Carr

Chief Operating Officer

Metro Nashville Public Schools

MNEA supports Metro budget proposal & higher pay for new teachers

Joining a growing list of supporters, the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association has pledged its support of Mayor Karl Dean’s 2013 budget proposal. Writing about the endorsement, MNEA President and middle school teacher Stephen Henry says:

While most of the buzz has centered on the $40,000 starting salary, the new compensation plan actually seeks to compress the total teacher salary schedule by reducing the number of steps, which is a significant modification and a good thing for teachers. Paying teachers well is a good way to attract and retain the best professionals to serve the children of Nashville.

Read the full MNEA letter of support.

Show your support for the budget proposal.

Link

Joining Peabody’s Camilla Benbow is Candice McQueen of Lipscomb University. In today’s copy of The Tennessean, Dr. McQueen says:

Unfortunately, some of the toughest teaching challenges in Nashville are also among the lowest-paid. Teachers are already candidates for burnout and turnover based on the work they do, but when they see how their work is valued by our city vis-á-vis other options, it is doubly discouraging. An excellent teacher willing to take on any challenge in Nashville has plenty of higher-paying opportunities in other school systems.

As dean of Lipscomb University’s College of Education, I have been closely following the proposal to raise teachers’ starting salaries in Metro Schools. Many of our graduates want to teach in Metro Nashville schools after graduation, because they see the potential for impacting students’ lives and our community. But in return for their willingness to do this hard and meaningful work that ultimately affects quality of life in our city, they have to accept thousands of dollars less than they can earn in another city.

Read the entire article here.

Peabody Education Dean supports our plan for raising teacher pay

The Dean of Education at America’s number one school for teachers has given a whole-hearted endorsement of the Metro Schools plan to raise starting teacher pay.

In an open letter to Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register, Dean Camilla Benbow of Peabody College at Vanderbilt University said she supports Metro Schools increasing the starting pay for teachers. The proposed salary schedule has starting teachers making $40,000, existing teachers receiving raises ranging from 1.9% to 8.2%, and all teachers reaching the top levels of pay in just 15 years rather than 25. This endorsement joins one from the Metro Nashville Education Association (MNEA).

You can read the full letter below, or click the link at the bottom of this post to see the letter itself.

If you’d like to join Dean Benbow in supporting the starting teacher pay increase, you can show your support by writing or calling the Metro Council and by coming to Council’s meeting on Tuesday, June 5.

Dear Dr. Register,

I am writing you in support of the MNPS effort to increase the starting salary of Nashville Public School teachers.

While teachers unions, policy-makers and the public can find much to disagree on when it comes to how to pay teachers, there’s little disagreement when it comes to the simple matter of a threshold, starting salary. A higher starting salary attracts more candidates and allows a district to be more selective in its hiring practices. This translates to more effective teachers for Nashville’s students. As you know, Peabody College prepares teachers drawn from a national pool of applicants. These students enter Vanderbilt with SAT scores far higher than what is typical  among schools of education nationwide. Based on their potential, it is certainly in Nashville’s interest to encourage these prospective teachers to remain here to begin their teaching careers. But at less than $35,000, the current MNPS starting salary for a beginning teacher with a bachelor’s degree is lower than the national average (approximately $37,500 in 2009-10 dollars), and well below the starting salaries in many of the urban areas from which our students come. We would love for more of our students to stay in Nashville and contribute to education in our community.

Polling data that Vanderbilt collected last fall suggest that the public would also be supportive of high starting salaries. Of 1,423 Tennesseans polled, 71 percent said that public school teachers in Tennessee were underpaid. Respondents ranked education as the No. 2 priority for state government. Perhaps now is the opportune time to initiate a salary increase.

Finally, I would add that not only would a higher starting salary help with teacher recruitment, it is also likely to help with retention. With nearly half of teachers leaving the profession in the first five years, a high starting salary, or increases in salary for early career teachers, may incentivize some to stay. Similarly, shortening the amount of time required for teachers to reach the top of the salary scale will enable MNPS to retain more of its experienced teacher workforce.

In short, we support MNPS’s proposal to increase teacher salaries. A favorable outcome is in the interest of Nashville’s children.

Sincerely,

Camilla Benbow
Patricia and Rodes Dean of Education and Human Development

See the Letter of Support from Peabody Dean Camilla Benbow

Wear blue for Metro Schools!

Wear blue for Metro Schools on Tuesday, June 5!

We want to send a clear message to the city and the Metro Council: we support Metro Schools and want the district to continue its improvements.

Wear blue on Tuesday to work, to the store, walking around the neighborhood, and most importantly to the council meeting that night.

Wear blue to spread the message throughout the city that we want more for our students, teachers, and schools.

Wear blue as the Council votes for the second time on the Mayor’s budget and property tax proposals.

Wear blue and send us a picture of your support so we can show everyone how strongly our community feels about furthering the great work being done in Metro Schools.

Wear blue!

Send your pictures to MNPSCommunicationsOffice@mnps.org. Post them to Facebook and tag us. Share them on Twitter and mention us.

And remember to attend that night’s Council Meeting and show your support in person!

30th place in teacher pay won’t cut it

Nashville cannot compete for great new teachers.

Metro Schools is not the easiest place to teach. It’s a large, urban district – the second largest in Tennessee – and brings all of the challenges that come with that. On top of that, 29 other districts in our state pay new teachers more money.

Put yourself in that position. If you were a fresh college graduate looking for a job, which would you choose? Nashville? Or making more money in the less complicated districts in Franklin, Lebanon or Murfreesboro?

We have the opportunity to change that right now. The proposal before the Metro Council is to raise Metro’s starting teacher salary to $40,000.  That moves us from a dismal 30th in starting teacher pay in Tennessee to 3rd – the spot this city needs and deserves.

This makes us more competitive in attracting great teachers right out of college. We can compete with other districts trying to hire them and attract more applicants, allowing us to choose the very best of the best.

Once here those new teachers will want to stay. They’ll stay because of our strong professional development, our exceptional principals, our commitment to technology, our leadership pipeline, our Master’s partnership with Vanderbilt University, our innovative practices (like Jere Baxter’s teacher-led school model), and on and on and on.

Once here they’ll help us further our successes. We have so many exceptional teachers in Metro Schools who have helped bring us this far. To keep our teaching force strong, we must bring more exceptional teachers to our growing district all the time.

We can bring them here by being competitive. 30th place is not competitive; 3rd place is.

Under this plan all teachers would see pay raises. All teachers could reach the top level of salary in just 15 years. The only Tennessee districts paying more would be Memphis and Shelby County.

Now where would you choose to teach?

Tell the Metro Council you want our city to compete for the best teachers. Tell them anything less than 3rd in the state is not enough. Great teachers are worth it.

Meet the School Board Candidates

From the fine folks at Friends of Metro Schools:

This August, Nashvillians will head to the polls to elect five of the nine Metro school board members. Friends of Metro Schools, with the support of the community partners listed below, will host a series of School Board Candidate Forums in June. This is your opportunity to learn about the candidates in your school board district before casting your vote. Nashville Education, Community and Arts Television (NECAT) will be videotaping portions of each forum for later broadcast on Comcast channel 10 in Davidson County.

District 1
Monday, June 11, 5-6:30 p.m. (program will begin at 5:30 p.m.)
Isaiah T. Creswell Arts Magnet Middle School; 3500 John Millette Drive; Nashville, TN 37218
Candidates: Sharon Gentry, Ed Kindall
Moderator: Ron Corbin, principal, RBBC Holdings; co-chair, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce Education Report Card Committee

District 3
Thursday, June 7, 5-6:30 p.m. (program will begin at 5:30 p.m.)
Madison Middle School; 300 Old Hickory Blvd. West Madison; Nashville, TN 37115
Candidates: Jarod DeLozier, Fred Lee, Jill Speering
Moderator: Mark North, vice chair, Metropolitan Board of Public Education

District 5
Monday, June 25, 6:30-7:30 p.m. (please arrive at least 15 minutes early; program will begin at 6:30 p.m.)
Rosebank Elementary School; 1012 Preston Drive; Nashville, TN 37206
Candidates: John Haubenreich, Elissa Kim, Erica Lanier, Gracie Porter
Moderator: Councilman Anthony Davis, District 7

District 7
Wednesday, June 20, 5-6:30 p.m. (program will begin at 5:30 p.m.)
Croft Middle School; 482 Elysian Fields Road; Nashville, TN 37211
Candidates: Will Pinkston, Alan Sharp, Al Wilkins
Moderator: José González, co-founder and finance director, Conexión Américas

District 9
Thursday, June 21, 5-6:30 p.m. (program will begin at 5:30 p.m.)
Hillwood High School; 400 Davidson Road; Nashville, TN 37205
Candidates: Bob Bogen, Eric Crafton, Margaret Dolan, Amy Frogge, Ronnie Osborne
Moderator: Beth Baker, H.G. Hill Middle School math teacher; Tennessee Education Association Distinguished Educator of the Year