The Ohio Education Computer Network (OECN) was created in 1979 by the Ohio Legislature under ORC 3301.075. Originally there were 27 data centers providing financial accounting support to school districts. Over time the owner-members of a few data centers voluntarily merged to create greater financial and operational efficiencies.
DA-Sites (today known as ITCs) formed the Management Council to represent them on a statewide basis.
Bruce Hawkins hired as Chief Executive Officer of the Management Council.
New Ohio Administrative Code rules were adopted to rename DA Sites to “Information Technology Centers” (ITCs). This new name better recognized their role in providing a technology shared services to Ohio’s schools.
Geoff Andrews hired as Chief Executive Officer of the Management Council.
Today, there are 18 member Information Technology Centers serving over 1.4 million students in 700 school districts, career centers, community schools, and educational service centers. The staff of the Management Council includes 50 employees dedicated to our mission.
OECN Past, Present, and FutureManagement Council Connections Newsletter (Fall 2012)
The Ohio Education Computer Network was formed in 1979 by the State Legislature to create a more uniform state financial accounting system for Ohio schools. At that time, the Information Technology Centers (ITCs) were called A-Sites, and many were formed around phone company boundaries. The purpose was to collect financial data in a consistent and economical manner. I recall when that happened, and there was resistance to change just like there is today. Back then, the school treasurers were part-time in many small rural districts, and the financial accounts were less complicated. For example, supplies were listed in a B-5 account; equipment was in a B-6 account. In contrast, the new Uniform School Accounting System code that was being developed had as many as 30 characters and was much more specific in tracking expenditures. Over time, the new system was adopted and is still in use today.
When the new Uniform Accounting System went into effect, the district I was working for had one computer for the entire district, and that was in the treasurer’s office. Technology use has exploded since then; first, in the guidance office for career exploration, scheduling, grade cards and attendance; then in the library with automation. By the 1990’s the Internet was changing how schools and ITCs operated, and technology had a much greater role in the way learning took place in the classroom. Now in the twenty-first century, growth in the use of technology in schools in both the administrative and the instructional areas continues at an exponential rate.
All along the way, Ohio has been a leader in providing technology to our schools. In the 1990’s, having a high-speed T1 line to districts was the envy of schools from other states. The fiber network to all ITCs and large urban districts in 2004 was a tremendous enhancement to the OECN network. Today 80% of Ohio schools have 100 megabits or greater connectivity. Ten percent have 10 megabits or better while 10% are below the 10 megabit level. We need to make sure that students have appropriate connectivity and software to get the education they will need to succeed in the future.
Technology is ubiquitous in Ohio schools making the two key services provided by OECN more crucial than ever before:
- Service/Support to Local Schools
Just as in the beginning the OECN was developed to provide economical technology solutions to schools, it still is today. The technology is ever-changing, and we need to make sure Ohio schools are receiving quality technical services at an economical cost. The Management Council continues to look at more efficient ways to deliver the services of the OECN.
Currently we are looking at the statewide cloud concept, regional services to other governmental entities, and more user friendly software.
The OECN has been transformed many times over the last 33 years as technology has changed and improved. The OECN will continue to meet the needs of Ohio schools in an efficient and economical manner with the emphasis remaining on high speed connections and quality services to Ohio schools and potentially other governmental entities.