Powering up: District changes technology and printing policy

Powering+up%3A+District+changes+technology+and+printing+policy

By Trey Phillips, Staff Reporter

In the library, a silent line of students grows. They’re waiting to print essays, worksheets and homework assignments on the new print release station, one of the many technology changes Conestoga has seen over the summer.

These changes to tech policies have affected how and what students can print through the print release stations and have replaced the Home Access Center system with PowerSchool. Katrina Stokes, an IT specialist at the Tech Deck, saw these changes and their effects on teachers and students firsthand.

“We removed local classroom printers that teachers had and tried to have their (printing) centralized,” Stokes said. “You can go down to different locations where there’s a print release station and release that job, so it makes you come to it and release (what you want to print). It’s not just where you can print 100 pages and never come get it.”

According to Stokes, a minimum of 100 pages were wasted daily last school year, enough to cover the entire printing table on any given day. New policies were put in place over the summer to reduce printer costs district-wide by as much as $30,000.

“There were printing changes throughout the district; it’s not just this building,” Stokes said. “I think it’s made a huge impact on what’s being wasted. You used to see the table sitting out there covered in papers that were never picked up; you don’t see that anymore. There’s no more random printing.”

The print release station at Conestoga is only a small part of a much larger initiative, as similar printing changes can be seen in every school from.

Another change for students this year was the move from eSchoolPlus to PowerSchool, the new Student Information System. Michael Szymendera, director of technology for the district, oversaw the introduction of PowerSchool and explained why PowerSchool was the best choice when it was time for an upgrade.

“For us there are three big parts of it: there’s the student information piece, the finance piece, and there’s the special education piece,” Szymendera said. “PowerSchool is a comprehensive integrated product that brings all of those things together under one system.”

eSchoolPlus, formerly known as the Home Access Center, replaced Pinnacle. eSchoolPlus was recently bought by PowerSchool in 2016.

Some students, such as senior John Atwood, have noted difficulties with PowerSchool. One of the key differences this year was summer access to schedules, which were sent out toparents instead of directly to students, nor in printed form as in years prior. 

“It was kind of difficult to just get on at first,” Atwood said. “A lot of people didn’t know their schedules when they posted them and that was a problem just not being able to see their schedule early on.”

However, initial impressions aside, PowerSchool has begun to show its worth. Junior Adam Francis said he values the new features that the Home Access Center didn’t offer.

“PowerSchool allows you to see the matrix view of your schedule and the week view, so it allows you to see different views. If you don’t understand, you can look at it a different way to understand it better,” Francis said.