We met with our outside tech consultant after Shavuot and she was great! I'm not being paid to advertise, but Lori Buschbaum (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the SF Bay area is proving to be an incredible resource! She clearly was familar with PC and Mac technology and was well aware when she was "speaking Geek" (or technology laden jargon) and was also very interested in helping us get our project going! She also had advice about everything that we wanted to do and seemed to be familiar with it and have experience doing it! Best of all, she said that her passion is helping other people become technologically proficient because she has plenty of work to keep her going! That is just what we wanted to hear!
After ruminating for a few weeks, she encouraged us to consider powerful suite of applications called "Power School" that includes everything that we want to do--grades, calendaring, student records, websites, etc. It is also easy to administer with very little technical know-how. But the catch is that it is around $5,000 or $6,000 and that would use every cent of our grant! So we asked Lori to create a different "road map" for us based on a more low-budget, piece-meal approach to creating our technology infrastructure. For example, an a low cost remote server hosting site that works with non-profits, like small Jewish day schools, an easy-to-use but low cost email service, web hosting site, etc. We want to stick with our plan of implementing one new thing at a time to get it right, and get the hang of it, then move on to the next thing. From long experience, all of us in our little technology work group at the school know that everything new piece of the puzzle you add creates more potential headaches and snafu's, so our motto is the Hebrew expression, "sh'lav sh'lav"--a step at a time!
So now we are just waiting for Lori to get back to us with the suggestions and hopefully, we'll have most of the summer to explore the most pressing things first--like creating a web-based report card system for the teachers, a new remote server hosting service, and then set up the structure for creating class web sites. As for myself, I'm totally psyched to be taking an Apple technology certification class on server administration and support! I might be the school's Rabbi-in-Residence, but I LOVE this technology stuff!