Kannapolis City Schools wins national award for technology partnership

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 13, 2014

The National School Boards Association has honored Kannapolis City Schools with a first place prize in the nationwide Magna Award competition. The Magna Awards, supported by Sodexo, honor districts across the country for outstanding programs that advance student learning and encourage community involvement in schools. An independent panel of school board members, administrators and other educators from around the country selected the winners from nearly 250 submissions.
“The Magna Awards showcase outstanding models for local school board leadership and school district success to advance student achievement,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, executive director of National School Boards Association. “We commend Sodexo for their continuing support of the Magna Awards to highlight the great achievements happening in public education.”
Kannapolis City Schools earned the first place Magna Award for its technology partnership with Cabarrus County government. The partnership started four years ago as a way of maximizing limited technology resources. The collaboration was needed because state technology funding for school districts had been virtually eliminated, but it was essential for Kannapolis City Schools to keep providing digital resources to students and staff.
Through the partnership, Kannapolis City Schools shares existing resources and equipment owned by Cabarrus County government to boost the system’s technology capabilities. For example, prior to the partnership, much of Kannapolis City Schools’ critical data was unprotected from a server failure. However, the partnership now gives KCS access to the county’s data center where it backs up its digital information. Building that kind of infrastructure from scratch would have cost millions of dollars, but the partnership allows KCS to use existing resources to provide the service without spending additional tax dollars.
The partnership also allows Kannapolis City Schools to use Cabarrus County’s engineering staff to help maintain the system’s network infrastructure. Kannapolis City Schools’ Director of Instructional Technology, Brenda McCombs, says the partnership has been extremely valuable. “Our level of technology planning and service has improved dramatically because we can now take a longer and more strategic view instead of just struggling to keep an aging system in operation. The partnership also frees up more money for classrooms because equipment and services that we used to buy are provided as part of the partnership.”
Dr. Pam Cain, Kannapolis City Schools superintendent, agrees that the program has been very successful. “We are extremely grateful for the leadership of our school board and the cooperation of Jay White, Liz Poole and the other Cabarrus County commissioners who started this partnership,” Cain says. “The collaboration has improved our technology, increased resources to classrooms, and saved taxpayers money. It is a tremendous benefit for children, teachers, and the community.”
Kannapolis City Schools and other Magna Award winners will be highlighted in a special section of the April issue of American School Board Journal and will be formally recognized on Saturday, April 5, during the NSBA’s 74th Annual Conference. Kannapolis City Schools’ winning entry is posted on the Magna Awards website at www.asbj.com/magna.