How Cleveland ISD Tracks Instructional Technology Across 13 Campuses
Technical Project Manager Johnie Busa uses Frontline’s Asset Management to keep eyes on technology assets, reduce device loss, and save time.
Product & Solutions
On the outskirts of Houston, Cleveland ISD is one of the fastest growing school districts in Texas — and possibly in the U.S., says Johnie Busa, a Technical Project Manager. New families are flocking to the area. Two years ago, the district opened three new campuses in one summer and is still growing.
As the number of students climbs, so does the need for technology, such as laptops, smart boards, access points, and Chromebooks. Johnie oversees a team of remote support technicians responsible for oversight of the district’s technology inventory, implementing new devices, and ensuring teachers and students have access to what they need.
Inconsistent Processes Lead to Device Loss
Each facility throughout the district is responsible for keeping track of its own technology, but in the past, there were no consistent processes for doing so. “Each campus basically kept a spreadsheet of what laptops they had and who they checked them out to, things like that. Nothing was consistent. I would say, in some cases, it was non-existent,” says Johnie. “When you’re just using spreadsheets and every campus is responsible for their own stuff, a lot of times you can’t tell if there’s been loss of equipment.”
“When you’re just using spreadsheets and every campus is responsible for their own stuff, a lot of times you can’t tell if there’s been loss of equipment.”
– Technical Project Manager
The technology department also realized it needed better reporting: “With the rapid growth that we were experiencing, it became more important to be able to show the [school] board as well as the finance department, ‘Here’s how much money we’re spending on each campus and each department. Here’s the impact that these bonds are having as they relate to technology.’ It just became more and more apparent that we weren’t going to be able to get by on spreadsheets alone.”
Cleveland ISD already had experience with Frontline’s Instructional Materials Management to keep track of the district’s textbooks, so they began exploring Frontline’s Asset Management to manage and track technology as well. Johnie says they chose Asset Management because it has more robust reporting tools than some of the other systems they considered, and because it is easier to use.
Getting Started with Asset Management
After purchasing Asset Management in 2020, the first step Johnie and his team took was to inventory every existing piece of technology they had. “We went around over the summer and inventoried everything we could find, put asset tags on them, and put them into Asset Management.” Going forward, when new equipment is purchased, they simply ask vendors to include a spreadsheet that includes each new device and its unique asset tag. Those items are connected to the purchase order and imported into Asset Management, so everything can be tracked back to its funding source.
Tracking Assets at Every School
Each campus still manages its own devices, but with Asset Management and consistent processes across the district, Johnie’s team can easily track each asset and has visibility into what technology exists at each location. They can also see when a device shows up in the wrong location. “Laptops have a tendency to start at one campus and then end up at another, so we use Asset Management to identify those devices and take them back to where they’re supposed to be.”
Faster Purchasing Decisions
As equipment ages, Johnie uses Asset Management’s reporting capabilities to find outdated equipment and make decisions about where new equipment will be sent. “If we have a grant that’s allowing us to purchase X amount of devices, we want to replace the oldest devices before anything else. I’ll run a report on Chromebooks, figure out what campus is lacking Chromebooks, and what campus has outdated Chromebooks.”
It wasn’t always that easy. “Before we were using Asset Management, someone would have to go to every single campus to assess what Chromebooks were on site. We have 13 campuses. Someone would have to walk around and attempt to make a physical record in an Excel spreadsheet or something: ‘This campus has this number of Dell 3100s and Acer 570s.’ Whereas with Asset Management, instead of going to every campus, we’re able to just do it from here, so that definitely saves tons of time.”
“Before we were using Asset Management, someone would have to go to every single campus to assess what Chromebooks were on site. We have 13 campuses…. Whereas with Asset Management, instead of going to every campus, we’re able to just do it from here, so that definitely saves tons of time.”
– Technical Project Manager
He can also track how much money is spent on technology at each campus over a given period and report how funds are used. The district recently used E-Rate funds to purchase networking equipment. Later this year when Johnie needs to show how E-Rate funds have been used, he’ll be able to run a simple report with that information.
Being More Prepared for Device Repairs
When the technology department staff receives work orders for repairs, they can pull up Asset Management and see if there are known issues with the model in question, which helps them be prepared when driving out to a campus. If someone requests a second monitor, Johnie says, “Some of our desktops only have certain outputs. Instead of going out there with a monitor that won’t even work, we’re able to look and say, ‘I know which one to bring at this point.’”
Tracking Missing Equipment
When each school would use its own spreadsheets to track where assets were, it was much easier for devices to go missing. But now, added visibility and accountability make it possible to tell when items aren’t where they are supposed to be — and then locate them. “Now, having Asset Management, we can clearly see, ‘There’s supposed to be an access point in this room and it’s not there.’ We can retrace certain steps to try to figure out what happened to it.”
Bringing the School Board and Community Along
Johnie says Asset Management also gives him the ability to justify how technology funds are spent to the school board and community. The community is heavily invested in the school, and it’s important for the district to get buy-in, especially when making major technology purchases. When the department wants to purchase 300 Chromebooks for a particular campus, he says, “We are actually able to show this is the most underserved campus when it comes to these devices, and we have numbers to back that up when they ask why.”
Looking to the Future
Cleveland ISD has only been using Asset Management for a couple of years, and Johnie said they are looking forward to utilizing the system in even more areas across the district. The finance department is planning to use it to allocate each campus’s technology budget. And once schools begin assigning devices to individuals rather than carts of computers assigned to each room, Asset Management will make it much easier to manage and track them, as well as to keep people accountable for the assets in their care.
Ultimately, Johnie says, the system helps him and his team work in service of the mission of education. “Everything from switches to access points to Chromebooks to iPads to the cables on the wall, almost everything is digital learning at this point. The impact that my department has on student education is ensuring that the kids have access to that technology at all grade levels.”