How an IT director launched a company to help schools save money and improve support - AZEdNews
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How an IT director launched a company to help schools save money and improve support

Students At Phoenix Coding Academy Work On An Assignment. Photo Courtesy Phoenix Union High School

K12itc, a company that recently expanded its services to Arizona, is helping school districts across the country better manage their information technology services budget while providing teachers the real-time support they need in the classroom.

K12itc was developed 10 years ago by former school district IT director Brad Sandt to bring better technology services to schools. The company, started in the Midwest, now serves 75,000 students in schools in eight states and recently expanded into Colorado, Wyoming and Arizona.

How an IT director launched a company to help schools save money and improve support Brad-Sandt-Headshot-480
Brad Sandt, founder and president of K12itc. Photo courtesy K12itc

“The goal is to bring equity and efficiency with day-to-day technology services so that schools can focus on enhancing the use of technology for instruction,” said Sandt, founder and president of K12itc.

Many school districts spend a lot of time finding and training technology professionals and making sure that their rapidly changing technology is functioning. “Our aim is to take that all off their plate so that they can focus on their ultimate goal, which is instructing their students and building their education for the future,” Sandt said.

The company’s services give school districts’ IT staff more time for innovative projects that help meet students’ and teachers’ needs.

“We are so very excited to be moving into Arizona, and can’t wait to develop some great partnerships and improve technology service,” Sandt said.

How K12itc is helping a rural school district

Technology is such a large part of everyday life and demands for tech infrastructure in schools are increasing, so school districts are constantly leveraging their budgets to get the most impact for their students, said Kristen Mayo, executive director of resources for Teton County School District in Jackson, Wyo., which serves 3,000 students in 10 schools located in a remote mountain area.

As student and staff technology support becomes more of a need, school districts must determine the best use of both their financial and human resources, Mayo said.

“K12itc offers an inclusive service that allows high-quality network support,” Mayo said. “These services will allow our on-site technicians to focus on school, staff and student support rather than network maintenance and upkeep.”

ASBA video: K12itc

Grand Teton County School District’s services through K12itc include network services such as wireless, their security cameras, all of their servers, Internet security mechanisms, web filtering, as well as a help desk that’s available from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m, Sandt said.

“Our help desk is available 12 hours a day so there’s extended time for teachers to call in, as well as we have staff who are managing the network and responding to events 24/7,” Sandt said.

The help desk can be accessed via phone, web and web chat for now and K12itc is working on text accessibility next. With wait times of only 15 seconds, teachers can get help with an issue before a lesson starts, Sandt said.

How an IT director launched a company to help schools save money and improve support K12itc_Logo_PMS_RGB
K12itc logo. Courtesy K12itc

It also allows issues to be resolved without a tech having to travel to the school site, said Brian Nelson, K12itc sales manager.

For example, Grand Teton County School District has a tech person on site at the high school, which is the district’s largest school, but that person might not be able to drive to the small school with 20 students just north if they have an issue and there’s an intense snowstorm, Nelson said.

“We have designed the network so we can give great customer service no matter whether you’re at the high school or you’re at that small school up north,” Nelson said.

ASBA video: K12itc caters to small and large districts

What a long-time client says about K12itc

When Goddard School District ‘s servers, wireless access points and switches were at the age they needed to be refreshed, the Kansas school district discussed with K12itc and other technology companies what it would look like if they managed the network and the help desk, said Jess Herbig, executive director of instructional supports for Goddard School District.

“One reason we looked at partnering with an outside agency was that our district had gone through budget cuts over the previous five years that led to a reduction of technology specialist positions in our individual buildings,” Herbig said. “Our technology staff was spread very thin, and partnering with K12itc allowed our technology specialists a chance to focus on curriculum items that were taking place in the classrooms.”

K12itc help desk which runs from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM, has allowed Goddard School District technology specialists to get out into the classrooms more often, Herbig said. 

K12itc has been a resource for different technology needs within the district, and have reached out to vendors to fix issues taking place within the district., which has let us to spend more time working on issues within the classroom, Herbig said.   

School districts should make sure they start discussions early in the school year and work to finalize their contract with K12itc by February, Herbig said. 

“This timeframe will allow K12itc to come on site February – May to look at the details with your network and infrastructure so any surprises can be worked out prior to the new infrastructure being put into place during the summer months,” Herbig said.

K12itc is always looking to improve their services, Herbig said.

“We have pushed for their Albert services to be more personalized for our district.  We have building technology specialists that are working in our building that have great insight on what is taking place with our technology infrastructure.  Our goal is for them to have more control over the things that are specific to the students and staff in Goddard,” Herbig said.

“K12itc has been very willing to help make these changes, which will positively impact our students and staff.  They are truly a partner to what we are trying to achieve in our district,” Herbig said.

How K12itc helps schools save money and time

Maintenance is built into service agreements, which transfers “the risk and the challenge of having to maintain equipment and the cost associated with it over time to us,” Sandt said.

If K12itc is managing a school’s wireless and the school buys more devices and needs more wireless, it’s included in the agreement for no additional cost, Sandt said.

As an IT director for 13 years in a school district that served 10,000 students, Sandt said he “dealt with the budget cycles, the buying cycles, and the economic downturns.”

That means K12itc understands the challenges school districts’ face, and makes sure it lessens “the headaches and pitfalls with those ongoing challenges of managing technology,” Sandt said.

Another advantage K12itc brings to school districts is a stable tech budget, Nelson said.

School districts’ tech budgets can fluctuate a great deal due to needs and issues that arise, but the K12itc services “virtually eliminates that,” Nelson said.

“We work to make our services as all-inclusive as possible so that you have everything you need,” Sandt said.

ASBA video: We guarantee wireless

K12itc brings school districts cost efficiencies through pooling resources together, particularly around staffing, Sandt said.

“We have on staff very knowledgeable and sophisticated engineering resources that many schools only need to use or tap into a limited amount of time on a yearly basis,” Sandt said.

Those resources can be very expensive by the hour, but with K12itc that’s “not an additional cost, it’s not something that’s unpredictable, it’s just built in” to service agreements, Sandt said.

K12itc also helps schools right-size services.

“We’re a very outcome, results-driven organization. It’s not about how many people that we have helping. It’s not about how many wireless devices. It’s about the result that you should have,” Sandt said.

Customers have told Sandt that they appreciate the reliability of K12itc.

“Many times we hear their network has never functioned as well or as stable or reliable as we’ve been managing it,” Sandt said. “When it does have a problem, they’re informed of the situation and what’s being done to fix it.”

Nelson said, “We do tech different in a way. We’re a customer service company and our passion is technology.”

K12itc has been to each of Grand Teton County School District’s 10 schools, and “while we are not fully implemented yet, the K12itc team have been a great support,” Mayo said.

“They have answered many questions, often repeatedly, to ensure we are fully comfortable with the change and the transition,” Mayo said. “It has been a great experience thus far and I am confident that they will continue to impress.”

K12itc prides itself on being innovative and adapting solutions to each school district’s environments, which means the company can develop plans for school districts that have good connectivity or work in more challenging connectivity environments, Sandt said.

“We’re working to bring the same cost efficiencies and capabilities whether you’re in a metropolitan area with great connectivity or you’re in a remote or rural area with challenging tech needs,” Sandt said.

Mayo said she would urge other districts to look at their technology plan and examine how much time and resources are going into network management and equipment versus staff and student support. 

“We have felt and grown through many of the pains of transition to being a 1:1 district,” Mayo said. “If a district is not already 1:1 but is planning to implement these devices, moving to a company like K12itc may save a lot of headaches in the process  and free up local resources to prepare staff and students.”

ASBA video: K12itc on data security

What K12itc is working on next

K12itc is now working on developing some automated ways of fixing issues for users.

“What we’re trying to do is provide a constant analysis of technology systems and users and processes and fix those before you even knew you had a problem,” Sandt said.

Along with developing a way to reach customer service by text, K12itc is continuing to work on cost efficiencies to optimize the costs of the company’s services and include new features  and innovations as they become available into service agreements, Sandt said.