TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Area Public Schools and Northwestern Michigan College will combine efforts in their technology endeavors, another step in what officials from both schools hope will be a money-saving relationship that better prepares area students for college.
NMC decided against filling a vacancy for its executive director for learning resources and technology, and instead will contract with Todd Neibauer, TCAPS’ director of educational and administrative technology.
“He’ll work on a contractual basis to look at our technological area to see what kind of synergies and connections there are,” said Stephen Siciliano, NMC’s vice president of educational services.
Neibauer will explore, for example, sharing data centers or computer banks, finding efficiencies with “Moodle,” a computer tool that NMC and TCAPS use to manage online courses, combining volume purchases for greater discounts, and possibly teaming to offer teachers’ professional development, Siciliano said.
The evaluation also will look for opportunities to ease TCAPS’ students’ transition to NMC by using consistent technology.
TCAPS Superintendent Stephen Cousins said expected savings from the move should become clear after a 30-day evaluation.
“Minimally, we will share a director between the two systems so there will be some savings there,” Cousins
Lines increasingly have blurred between the college and school district with stepped-up efforts to align their curricula and making it easier for high school students to take NMC classes and earn credit at both institutions.
NMC teachers will travel to Traverse City West Senior High School this year to teach advanced math classes and Spanish 201 and 202. A Suttons Bay High School teacher is being mentored to teach math, art appreciation, and U.S. history for NMC credit as part of an “early college” program, Siciliano said.
“We are offering the COMPASS testing (an NMC math placement test) in the high schools so we can help faculty get a better sense of where they’re at,” said Siciliano, adding that a Spanish placement test was successfully piloted at TCAPS last spring and will likely expand.
“So many students who start at TCAPS become NMC students and many are now both,” he said. “The technology piece is just another example to look at how we can do that.”
Cousins said NMC and TCAPS have been talking about overlapping their strategic plans since he’s arrived in the summer of 2010.
“We’ve been doing that on the instruction side but this is our first foray into operations,” he said.