One rotten apple….

I work for Capital Region BOCES as a Network Administrator and it’s a pretty good gig. Four days per week (the BOCES maximum….yes, it’s weird) I am stationed at a progressive Suburban Council school in upstate New York. They have a sizable technology budget, an administration who realizes that technology can actually work for them, and a parent population who believes that SAT preparation begins at birth. On the fifth day I am a shared resource which means I can get sent just about anywhere. My managers typically respect the fact that I administer one of the largest and most complex districts in the area, so my fifth day is usually spent at the office catching up on the minutiae of the district…paperwork, research and documentation.

You can imagine my surprise a couple of weeks ago when my manager told me I would be doing a long term assignment at my old district, Watervliet City. Apparently the guy who replaced me (who makes a lot more money than I do) has done such a poor job of things that the district is in a technological crisis, and they asked that he be removed never to return again. Great.

I could not believe the mess I was greeted with when I arrived there. Backups had not been successfully run in months, there were stacks of trouble tickets, and the office was such a mess that I had to fill two trashcans of crap before I could find a place to set my laptop. The staff and faculty were desperate for tech help, and I felt like I had been dumped into a tank of piranhas. One teacher got down on his knees and begged me to come back; I was flattered but thought, “when hell freezes over”.

It made me sad to see what had happened to the nice little network I left behind two years ago, but it was sadder to think about the damage that has been done to the reputation of BOCES. The technicians who are placed in districts are ambassadors for the organization and blissfully free from a lot of home office micromanagement; the expectation is that they will work independently to address the technology needs of the district they serve. Hopefully this “rotten apple” experience will not change all that.

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