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Elementary Students Reaping Benefits of Summer Tech Refresh

HCS Chromebooks

August 2019
Ian Thompson, C.R.E.W.

[HOOVER] - Amidst the day-to-day complexity of Hoover City Schools’ technology (both institutional and instructional), forward planning remains underway each school year.  In particular, planning for summer work - or “refreshes” - as Hoover City Schools’ Technology Department calls them.  

For the 2019-2020 School Year now underway, students across the district’s ten elementary school have been enjoying the department’s latest refresh, thanks to a year’s worth of planning and a summer full of swap-outs.

“We replaced every computer at the elementary school level,” HCS Chief Technology Officer Bryan Phillips said. “That’s desktops, Chromebooks, laptop carts, etc..”

The refresh, designed to keep state-of-the-art devices in classrooms to aid instruction, totaled some 800 desktops, plus each up-and-coming 3rd grader (1029 of them) received a Chromebook (the grade at which Chromebooks are issued in HCS).  Rising 4th and 5th graders kept Chromebooks issued to them in 3rd grade.

“All of our devices are on five-year plans, so each summer it’s a new rollout. For example, next summer will be Spain Park (High School), but that’s more straightforward than the elementary schools as everything is under one roof.”

All told, Phillips’ team is responsible for 12,000+ Chromebooks for students, with all students from third grade onwards receiving one, plus over 1400 Chromebooks for teachers and staff.

Naturally, there will be issues…

“Around the first week of school, we can hit 600 work orders in a day. This is a huge undertaking.”

Phillips likened it keeping a small city running daily, but at locations spread across a wide area.

“Taking into account personal devices, we average 22,000 devices in use on a daily basis.”

Phillips, who grew up in Jefferson County and is in his 17th year with Hoover City Schools, is self-taught in technology, beginning his career in education teaching 3rd, then 6th grade, plus some coaching, in Jefferson County Schools before moving into technology for Hoover.

“I’ve seen it from the teaching side and the technical side. I understand what educators are going through. I’m not just the ‘man behind the curtain’ that nobody sees or knows.”

His dedicated staff features a Technology Integration Coordinator, Coordinator of IT (Information Technology), IT Secretary, ELI (Engaged Learning Initiative) Technician, Database Administrator, two Network Administrators, District Registrar, seven Technology Coaches, and seven tech staff all working together to keep Hoover City Schools at the forefront of an ever-changing field.