NetDay Logo

Strategic Technology Planning in Texas

December 2000

David Avila, director of technology for the Mercedes Independent School District (MISD), shared his technology planning experience with us. Here's his story.

"When we began revising our technology plan two years ago, our first step was to build a team of individuals that represented both the school district and individual schools. We made sure that our team included administrators, teachers and students. This committee needed to include representatives from all schools who were committed to our overall education and technology goals. We were also looking for individuals who were experienced in using technology as a learning tool.

Once we had the committee established, we first looked at our existing technology plan. As we assessed our progress, we learned that while we had completed several objectives, there were a few that needed to be reached and new ones to be developed.

In addition to going through our checklist to ensure that our objectives had been met, we assessed our needs, our current technology capabilities and our integration plans. The purpose of this was to make sure that our plan was changing with the technology and that we were meeting specific needs of our school district. To help guide us, we gathered technology plans from other school districts. These plans provided us with new ideas and served as a gauge for measuring the plausibility of our plan.

Some of the questions we sought answers to were:

  1. Where do we want to be three years from now?
  2. What are the needs of our student grade-by-grade?
  3. What steps do we need to enforce or implement to further ensure that technology is used to help achieve academic goals?
  4. What can be done to further integrate technology into everyday teaching?
  5. How can we maximize our current hardware and software as effective learning tools?

An essential element to our planning and review process is that with each step, our committee members would take major decisions or discussion points back to their individuals schools to gather input. We wanted to make our plan as broad as possible, yet strong enough so that all schools were benefiting no matter what level of technology they had. We found that by gathering input from schools as the process progressed, we were able to modify the plan in a manner that would help all schools. This process was also important as we fine-tuned the plan so that elements from hardware procurement needs to classroom support were incorporated into our objectives and goals.

Our plan also took into consideration new technologies, but the committee's approach in including these newer technology solutions was realistic. We were careful to match our needs to our fiscal capabilities, a process that helped us identify what technology items could be supported with the existing budget and what items we could consider with some support from alternative funding. The technology planning process helped us begin identifying where we might look for additional fiscal resources, including programs such as the E-rate.

Another key element of our technology plan is the commitment we have made to ensure that there is technical support for the district. As part of our budget consideration, we have factored in the need to have on staff a full-time director of technology, a network specialist, and three full-time technical specialists that spend time in each of our schools. As part of our partnership with NetDay, the MISD also had a full-time NetDay technical specialist and a full time NetDay Integration Specialist."

EDITOR'S NOTE: In spring of 2001, the Mercedes Independent School District will begin working on a new 3-year technology plan. Mr. Avila said, "unexpected, but welcomed, hardware donations and support from the E-rate have changed our goals." He believes they are much further along than anticipated and is excited about working more on technology competencies for teachers and all other personnel in the district, professional development, and classroom support. The school district is also planning to invite the community to use the computer resources at the school, something they could not do 3 years ago because of the lack of hardware resources. The MISD's ultimate goal is to make sure that students leave their district with the skills needed to be competitive in this technologically driven world.

About the Mercedes Independent School District:
The MISD is located in Mercedes, TX, which is a rural town in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley with a population of 13,000. MISD is the 8th poorest school district in Texas, with 90% of the 5,000 children in the school district living at or below the poverty level. A large percentage of those children live in sub-standard housing (colonials) that lacks the infrastructure for basic utilities.

MISD is part of the NetDay Community Initiatives. To learn more, visit the Mercedes Independent School District web site at or call David Avila at (956) 514-2005.