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Finding the Right Mix in Building a District IT Team

Insight from Dr. Kenneth J. Thompson, Chief Information Technology Officer of San Antonio ISD

Part one in a two-part series. View part two here.

Dr. Kenneth J. Thompson is the Chief Information Technology Officer for the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD). He will be presenting on a variety of topics at the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) in January 2020 in Miami.

When it comes to assessing the state of edtech across education, Dr. Thompson finds that every district has its unique characteristics. “There are a number of commonalities across every local education agency (LEA). Security; equity; access; equality; and funding,” says Dr. Thompson. “But the methodology that you use to achieve those goals [is distinct.] You have to take a different approach because you have to look at the players on the field. You have to look at the goals of the district. You have to look at the current leader, and the leader has an impact.”

There are varying elements that go into building an IT team to meet the needs of different districts because the needs of IT and the role of a CIO and CTO are always changing. Dr. Thompson poses the questions, “Do you do it with a mixture of internal and external resources? Or do you do it with all external resources? Or do you do it with just internal resources?” The approach chosen will have a lasting impact on the organization and the department as a whole.

“If you do it with all internal staff, it’s a pat on the back; it’s an ‘attaboy’ for organizations: ‘Yes, I think we’ve got the tools here to build this thing, and I can make it successful.’ It’s like a promotion for the internal team,” explains Dr. Thompson. “Externally, often, it depends on how you massage it. It’s a slap [to] the organization because, now, you’re bringing all these people and fresh minds to build an organization. If you do it as a mixture, again, you’ve got both.”

No matter the method that is ultimately adopted, Dr. Thompson points to constants that must always exist. He adds, “The way you build the culture of the organization is critical, and you have to massage it very carefully. I don’t care if you do it [from the] internal, external, or a mixture. You have to know IT. You have to know the application environment. You have to know the infrastructure environment and the service delivery environment. And if you don’t know those components and the culture or feel of the organization, in my opinion, you’ll fall flat on your face.”

About Dr. Kenneth J. Thompson

Dr. Kenneth J. Thompson is an innovative and visionary leader with over 25 years of senior-level technology experience leading complex IT service delivery organizations and leveraging IT resources to assist leaders in achieving organizational goals. He has a dynamic focus on driving operational excellence via technology. Zealous management career with strong leadership, problem-solving, planning, team-building and project management skills. Strong record of success in motivating, developing, recruiting and retaining a diverse staff structure that delivers results successfully.


Dr. Kenneth J. Thompson will be presenting at the following:

  1. The Seven (7) Critical Components of a Successful IT Team
  2. Cloud-versus-On Premise: How to make the correct decision?
  3. Equity-versus-Access: Student Technology Deployments
  4. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Student Information Systems (SIS) Deployments: Pitfalls and Successes

The 40th anniversary Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) will take place January 14-17, 2020 in Miami, Fla. Registration is now open at Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC)

FETC 2020 40th Anniversary

Further Reading
This post includes mentions of a partner of MindRocket Media Group the parent company of edCircuit
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