If Alpine School District were in the computer software business, the word to the wise would be to buy stock in it.
That's because the district currently has a product hot enough to make any stockbroker sweat dollar signs.According to district officials, TRACE, the district's computerized instructional support system, is in big demand. More than 500 orders for the system from school districts throughout the country and Utah are on hold, awaiting the school board to finalize marketing strategies.
"The districts around the state that I've talked to are very excited and anxious to move ahead. They want the software so they can begin working with their teachers," Superintendent Steven Baugh said.
TRACE, an acronym for Teacher Resources to Achieve Classroom Excellence, is a computer system that uses laser discs, printers and televisions to reproduce worksheets, tests, assignments, grade books, roll books and other teaching materials.
Developed by the district with career ladder money and state technology funds, TRACE's software is now a district asset. The system is copyrighted and all proceeds received from marketing TRACE belong to the district.
"I think we've got quite a marketable system here. I'm really impressed," board member Richard Gappmayer said.
And marketing TRACE is exactly what the district plans to do. Kolene Granger, assistant superintendent of instructional services, said TRACE version 1.0 should be ready for distribution in about three weeks. Proposed TRACE purchase agreements and license agreements for Utah schools are awaiting approval from the school board. The district is also finalizing plans to incorporate the TRACE Development Center as a non-profit corporation.
"We're attempting to accommodate other districts as we are able," Granger said.
Under the proposed purchase agreement, Utah school districts can purchase the system for $200 plus $100 for each school that uses the system. Districts must also ensure that personnel are properly trained in using the system's software and components.
"We are not in this to make money," Baugh said. "But the possibility exists for us to bring in a sufficient capital flow to refine what we have and to further our technological development. Our needs for technology in this district are great."
Clarence Whetten, TRACE project director of programming, said the potential for TRACE increases as more teachers use the system and more money is available to test new versions. Whetten, an Orem High School computer science teacher on leave, said the system operates on the "sharing concept."
"Every teacher has a specialty area, one thing that they are really good at. We want to capture their ideas and information and put it in a place where other teachers can have easy access to it. We hope to distribute the best teaching methods to everybody," Whetten said.
The TRACE development committee will offer five-day training seminars in April, May and June for districts that purchase the system.
"We have a commitment in Alpine, what we develop we are willing to share with other districts within the state," Baugh said. "Our first desire is to improve the educational opportunities for children."
School board members are expected to finalize purchase and license agreements, and articles of incorporation during next month's two board meetings.
TRACE benefits\ Superintendent Steven Baugh said the district will benefit in three ways by selling TRACE to other districts:
- More schools using the system means a larger pool of curriculum materials.
- More schools using the system means more suggestions on how to make improvements.
- The district can use the money received from selling TRACE to refine the system and to purchase other technology.