March 27, 2012
Chicago Public Schools will save more than $6 million over three years and staff and students will gain enhanced communications and e-learning tools with the implementation of Google Apps for Education. Pending approval by the Board of Education at tomorrow’s Board meeting, Google Apps will place all CPS employees on the same e-mail system, and help drive student achievement through a menu of programs and applications that will be available to teachers and students.
Having CPS employees and students on a single e-mail platform will greatly ease communication between and among principals, teachers, students, and network and central office staff. Currently, most school-based staff and students send and receive e-mails through a system different than administrative employees, which slows interactive communications among all groups. In addition, current e-mail systems have limits on users, whereas the new Google system will be unlimited in its capacity.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for CPS to streamline our internal communications and add instructional tools, while at the same time cut costs,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. “Staff and students can look forward to the benefits of this state-of-the-art system that will contribute to better teaching and learning, while helping us work smarter and more efficiently as a District.”
SADA Systems Inc. will install the Google system over the next several months and it will be available to CPS staff and students in the fall. Beyond expanding and easing communication and collaboration, and supporting classroom instruction, Google Apps for Education also will save the District critical funding as it reduces the current fixed costs of the District’s outdated systems. Including expenses for archiving and licensing for the existing e-mail systems, and not including any offset from federal E-rate, the District will save approximately $6 million in ongoing fixed costs over the life of the contract.
Google Apps will provide access to a wide range of applications beyond e-mail that will supplement classroom instruction. The system employs “cloud” technology, which creates multiple potential uses in teaching and learning. For example, users can be created and stored in the “cloud,” a virtual environment; students can create writing samples and reports, or perform research and share their work product with teachers or fellow students; and they can work virtually in study groups and create portfolios of their own work over an extended period of time without concern of storing or losing their work.
Teachers will be able to create and store presentations in the “cloud” for student viewing at a convenient or assigned time. Google Apps will also allow teachers to easily collaborate with one another, store data in the cloud and even create class websites to share commonly used resources, homework or post lessons online for student access. Principals and other school-based administrative staff will be able to use Google Apps to manage events in their building, assess room availability, equipment checkout and share calendars.
“This is a forward-looking system that will give our staff and students the best technology tools available to use in creating a world-class educational system,” Brizard said. “We look forward to its installation and being able to fully utilize all of its features.”
The Google Apps email system is either already in use or is being installed by a number of school districts around the county, such as Los Angeles, CA Unified Schools (670,000 students), Palm Beach County Florida Schools (173,000 students) and Polk County, Florida Schools (94,000 students). Northwestern and Yale Universities use the system as does the U.S. Navy and the cities of Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.
The $1.824 million three-year contract includes implementation of the Google system, migration from the current CPS e-mail systems, archiving of data and annual maintenance. Google e-mail carries no licensing fees compared to $2.4 million in annual fees for the existing systems.
CPS selected the Google system following issuance of Request for Proposals last October, to which seven vendors replied. An internal committee composed of representatives from various CPS departments and school-based staff reviewed the proposals and, following presentations by three of the vendors, ultimately determined the Google Apps for Education best met the needs of the District.
The installation of this new technology further represents the District’s commitment to expanding new technologies to boost student learning. Initiatives include using iPads as instructional tools in classrooms throughout the District, lifting the ban on YouTube for teachers and staff in order to provide improved access to instructional resources, and utilizing Safari Montage to link classrooms throughout CPS.
Chicago Public Schools serves 405,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.