Saturday, November 13, 2010

IT Consolidation- Part II

Read the first post on this subject- IT Consolidation, Part I

I believe that effective use of computer technology and related systems is one of the important keys to our long term success as a town. Many corporations have successfully navigated recent turbulent economic times through innovative use of technology. Productivity gains leading to lower costs can be achieved through effective deployment of new capital (+ employee training) particularly for computer technology related systems.

Various computer technologies and systems are involved in many aspects of our town government ranging from the Finance Department, Town Clerk and Assessor’s offices, Storrs Library, DPW and Police/ Fire Departments.

Technology is vitally important to the success of the education process in Longmeadow as well.

As a town we do some things well and other things not so well.

The installation of the new water meters with transmitters that allow the town to collect and bill town residents in a much faster and more efficient manner is but one small example of how technology can help the town reduce costs and achieve our long term goals.

Our town wide high speed phone system can effectively inform town residents (or a group of town residents) about an emergency or situation in a very short time and is another good example of what we are doing well.

In contrast to those examples, original property records in the Assessor's Office are 20th century technology at best. If you have needed to review the details of your original property record at Town Hall, you will find that the town still uses paper records. Let’s hope that the piece of paper for your original plot plan is never lost or misplaced. Check with East Longmeadow and other surrounding towns and you will find that they utilize an online GIS system which provides a wealth of information for homeowners and other interested parties. I suspect that there may be significant cost reduction and/or service improvement opportunities in this area.

We need more training for all of our town employees including teachers to effectively utilize the technology resources that we already have and for each town employee to become more productive in the workplace.

The list of technology needs in our town are great…

It is more than new computers, wireless networking and new software for our school system. Police, Fire, Town Hall, Storrs Library all have opportunities and needs that could reduce costs and provide new services that must be considered when allocating our limited financial resources.

Without regular (or annual) Proposition 2½ overrides Longmeadow will always be required to prioritize its needs. Technology equipment and resources will become an ever increasing demand on our limited resources.

Armand Wray, School Committee chair cited a “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) between the SC and SB at this week’s SC meeting. It stated that the proposed new IT department’s budget will not be subject to “line item” transfer of funds to other school department needs.

That is not my concern…. The primary mission of the School Superintendent and the Longmeadow SC is the education of our children.   Adding the additional responsibility for the broad scope of the town’s IT needs just doesn’t make sense.

The issue of "student privacy" being used as a reason for consolidating the IT department under the School Department is a "red herring".  The Police and Fire Departments already have rigid security requirements under Homeland Security so the issue is not unique within our town.

From Wikipedia… Information Systems (IS) is an academic/ professional discipline concerned with the strategic, managerial and operational activities involved in the gathering, processing, storing, distributing and use of information, and its associated technologies, in society and organizations.

I recommend that the Longmeadow Select Board consider creation of a new separate department under Town Government called Information Systems and not simply consolidate the current town and school IT efforts under the auspices of the Longmeadow School Department.

There will be a Select Board hearing on Monday, November 15 at 8 PM to hear public comments regarding the consolidation of the school and town IT departments under the School Department. This public hearing is required because a change in the Town Charter is required.

While it would appear that the Aseltine-Barkett-Swanson majority is in favor of this change and this hearing is only a formality, I would urge all concerned residents to attend the meeting and voice their opposition to this town charter change.

Note: If you are interested in adding your comments, simply send them with your name and address to

1 comment:

Jim Moran, LongmeadowBiz said...

submitted by Roger Wojcik

Select Board Moves to Dismantle Key charter Provision

Longmeadow’s charter mandates that the town’s information technology function be consolidated under the supervision of the Director of Finance and Administration. Today your Select Board is proposing to not only consolidate this function (which is good) but position inside the School Department, within the domain of the School Committee. Repositioning the IT function under the School Committee is another step towards strengthening the role of the School Committee and further upsetting the balance of influence and resources of the town as a whole. The risk? – an IT system which services the school needs first and the total town’s needs second. The reward? – further control of key town functions by the School Committee and a genuine disadvantage for the rest of the town.

Your charter put the IT Department within the town’s general government branch to serve all the town, not just the School Department. The Select Board is not following the vote of the residents when they approved the charter. This proposed action is a blatant “the heck with the charter” move!

On Monday November 15 at 8:00pm at the Select Board meeting there will be a public hearing to air this proposal. I request that every town resident attend this meeting and express your opinion on whether the Select Board should follow the mandate of the town Charter and leave the IT function under the Director of Finance And Administration, or charge off into left field and favor the School Committee again. Your choice.

Remember the three most recent members of the Select Board are ex School Committee members.

Roger Wojcik for A Better Longmeadow