To make things easier, six local school districts have joined forces to form the Ottawa Area Information Technology Consortium (OAITC), which helps the partner districts acquire and maintain learning technology, enabling school staff to continue to focus on teaching students.
The partnership consists of five districts within the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District — Spring Lake Public Schools, Hamilton Community Schools, Holland Public Schools, Saugatuck Public Schools and the OAISD itself — and Oakridge Public Schools in Muskegon County.
By working together, these districts leverage buying power and share best practices and problem-solving techniques. Dave Tebo, superintendent for Hamilton Community Schools, said being a part of the consortium gives them the ability to move technology maintenance concerns into the background and allows them to focus on teaching and learning.
“The OAITC has allowed Holland Public Schools to advance our goal of integrating technology into every school and every classroom to enhance student learning,” Holland Superintendent Brian Davis said. “We simply did not have the capacity to build and sustain the infrastructure of supports and personnel necessary to do this prior to the OAITC.”
Each district in the consortium is able to choose the technology that is best for them, and every district receives the same level of service regardless of size. Although partner districts vary in size from 850 students to nearly 3,500, every district has an equal voice in the consortium.
The partnership also includes a staff of more than 30 highly trained information technologists. That way, if an information technology employee gets sick or leaves, the consortium districts have someone to fill in so everything can keep running smoothly.
“There is an intense spirit of cooperation between districts,” Saugatuck Superintendent Tim Travis said. “Through this shared knowledge and discussion, we are better able to use taxpayers’ money to positively impact student learning and internet safety. These regional best practices have helped the Saugatuck tech committee better plan for future needs when thinking about how the district uses technology and the types of technology they should consider.”