SOUTHINGTON — The school system began the new academic year without a full-time director of technology.
Jamie Olander held that position for more than five-and-a-half years. His last day with the school district was Sept. 3, district officials confirmed. Eight days later, academic instruction had resumed across the district.
School Superintendent Tim Connellan described the exit as “a mutual separation.”
“We have reached a mutual agreement that it would be in our best interest to pursue separate courses,” Connellan said, without detailing the reasons the district and Olander decided to part ways. “It seems to be the right course of action,” he said.
Olander officially began the job in January 2015, earning a starting salary of $128,000, according to previous Record-Journal reports. Attempts to reach Olander for comment were not successful.
The position, which reports directly to the superintendent, oversees a department of about a dozen employees. According to the job description, requirements include a bachelor’s degree in either computer science or management information systems and having experience managing databases. The job requires a minimum of five years’ experiencing operating computer networks, including those that manage school finance and student data.
Olander’s exit comes with the school district having grown increasingly dependent on technology. The last three months of the 2019-2020 school year saw the district carry out remote online instruction due to public health restrictions meant to slow the spread of COVID-19.
This school year, more than 10 percent of families with elementary and middle school aged children opted to begin the school year remotely. High school students are attending on an every other day, in-person, remote, hybrid model.
Connellan said he is personally fulfilling the duties of the technology head, which will include overseeing the eventual distribution of some 3,700 new Chromebook computers the district ordered over the summer.
Because of nationwide backlogs, Connellan said the district may not receive those computers until mid-October. The district’s supply is being distributed by priority — to high school students, households where students don’t have device access, and remote learners first. The district is prioritizing middle school students first, then elementary school students.
“I’ve got to say we have amazing people — from our frontline technology folks to our tech office staff,” Connellan said.
He did not say if or when the vacant position would be advertised.
“Whenever a situation like this comes up, you have the opportunity to look back and assess how you want to do things. You have an opportunity to restructure or decide to do things differently,” Connellan said.