The technology company servicing is getting the word out about its work through YouTube and five of its promotional videos star the district's superintendent and assistant superintendent.
Superintendent Dr. Mary Bucci and Assistant Superintendent Dr. David Foley speak about the district's technological problems and demands and how VARtek provided a "total solution."
VARtek, an Ohio-based company that specializes in technology solutions for K-12 schools, contracted with the Pine-Richland School District for $1.2 million in the spring of 2010.
VARtek's website states: "Pine Richland School District, a suburban Pittsburgh, PA school district with 4,500 students and 2,500 computers, was able to save over $250,000 per year and improve service delivery by choosing VARtek."
VARtek also posted several promotional videos from Valley View School District in Ohio, and its website is sprinkled with testimonials from various districts.
The video titled "Superintendent - Pine Richland School District - r090511" features Bucci talking about the district and its technology problems.
"We were having issues with our technology on a regular basis. I would say two or three times a week I would have an emergency that had to do with technology. One of the key instances that pushed us over the edge or pushed me over the edge was when I was told that our email system had to be replaced immediately or it was going to destruct.
"I need a little more notice than that. We need to be able to plan, we need to be able to budget for things and that to me is not a healthy system and we did look outside of our own capacity then for greater expertise.
"I do think it is a problem that a lot of districts have. We are essentially educators, we're in the education business and frequently the person who is in charge of technology was the one that got the first computer and was a user, one of those early adopters, was trained as a teacher, some type of an educator, and ends up by default being the technology coordinator.
"What VarTEK brings to the table is a broader experience, a broader array of skills, a depth to their knowledge about technology and the ability to learn from adopting those things or implementing those things in more than one place."
Because VARtek serves more than one school district, it cuts the costs associated with hiring and training technology personnel, she said.
"We cannot provide the level of training that our own staff would need to stay current. So it's really important to us to partner with a company that can provide that professional development for its employees. We need to use our professional development monies for our teachers to try to keep up with those changes in education."
Assistant Superintendent Foley appears in a YouTube video titled "Asst. Superintendent - Pine Richland School District r090511".
He said VARtek has helped the district develop a long-term plan.
"A lot of the curriculum that we purchased here in the Pine-Richland School District, there are technology components that go along with it," said Foley.
"When technology is working efficiently and it's instantaneous, it concentrates student efforts specifically on the learning, not 'hey, this isn't working now and I can't do what you're asking me to do.'"
Before VARtek came on board, Bucci said, there were more than 700 "trouble tickets" out for repairs.
"Some of those tickets were several years old and people, I think, had gotten to the point where they had forgotten about what they had put a ticket in on," said Foley.
"The teachers at one point, I think, had thrown their arms up and said, 'It's not going to be reliable, it's not efficient right now. Is this something that I want to plan a lesson around and then it not work?'" Foley added.
Problems started to subside when VARtek began working on the technology issues, said Foley.
"Teachers are more willing to experiment with technology and we are getting more use out of the current technologies that we have," Foley said.
"It's the backbone, it's the skeleton of a lot of what we do," said Bucci, referring to technology. "It's the structure that we rely on. But it's not to be at the forefront. It really is a tool.
"The learning is to be at the forefront."
Asked if any Pine-Richland School District administrators had filmed a promotional video for a company previously, Communications Director Rachel Hathhorn said she was not aware of any in recent history.
"VARtek requested the testimonial," Hathhorn said in an email. "PR was happy to speak about the district's positive experience."
To see the videos, click on the titles below:
"Superintendent - Pine Richland School District - r090511" is a 4:40 video featuring Bucci.
"Asst. Superintendent - Pine Richland School District r090511" is a 4:12 clip featuring Foley.
"Innovation - Pine-Richland School District - r090411" -- both administrators are featured in the 1:54 video.
"Cost - Pine Richland School District - r090511" features both administrators in this 1:56 clip.
"Performance - Pine Richland School District - r090511" includes Bucci and Foley in the 1:38 video.