New communications venue will include monthly conversations by region between ed commissioner and superintendents

KSBA eNews Service, Frankfort, Nov. 27, 2012

Tech advancement to create monthly regional web chats among superintendents, Commissioner Holliday
Staff report

Within the next 90 days, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday plans to be talking “online, face-to-face” with small groups of superintendents about whatever is on their minds – every month.

During Holliday’s monthly webinar for all superintendents on Monday, the commissioner announced he will be using a new KDE technology option – Office 365 – to discuss issues with the state’s top district administrators on a regular basis.

“I want to have more frequent conversations with superintendents in a setting of 20 to 30 superintendents so you feel that you are able to have your voice heard without a prescribed agenda as we do with these webinars,” Holliday said.

“My intent of these meetings is no agenda. These online, face-to-face meetings will be your agenda – whatever questions you have, whatever comments you have, whatever concerns you have,” he said.

The commissioner said KDE’s shrinking travel budget and staff time made it “extremely difficult” to get to all of the state’s regional education cooperative meetings as often as he would like. 

The Office 365 – a Microsoft product – will allow Kentucky school administrators, teachers and students to have access to additional “collaborative tools,” according to KDE technology specialist Chuck Austin.

“Superintendents can collaborate among their peers. Principals will be able to collaborate with all of their staff. Later in the year, we’ll migrate students in,” Austin said, adding that among the main components of Office 365 are enhanced email options, greater document management and storage and a product called Lync Web Conferencing and Digital Meeting Space.

“Lync really is much like Skype or Facetime on steroids. It’s web conferencing, a digital meeting space that allows you to share video and audio and collaborate with as many as 250 people at a time,” he said.

Holliday said while he will be building the online chat schedule by regions, he wants superintendents to join in, schedules permitting.

“Our intent is to use Lync with superintendents by your co-op regions. If you can make your scheduled regional date, great; if not, you can attend virtually with another co-op,” he said, adding, “If you do have a camera, I’ll be able to see you and you’ll be able to see me, so you may want to be alert to that. Other people on the linked video conference will be able to see you.”

Other issues addressed during Monday’s webinar included updates on the teacher and principal evaluation system development, next year’s assessment and accountability system reporting – including the new elementary program reviews – and the district’s timetable for implementing the new law allowing school systems to apply for “District of Innovation” designations and accompanying freedom from compliance with select state laws and regulations.

The full webinar is archived on the KDE website.

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