Classroom technology

(CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Joe Phillips learned the ins and outs of the technology sector while also experiencing the value of efficiency when he was serving 16 years in the U.S. Army, where his roles included chief information officer and chief of staff.

Now, Phillips is transferring that unique background into his new role as tech director for Kansas City Public Schools.

The job was essentially created from scratch, which means Phillips had to do everything from creating an inventory of what the district had on hand to establishing a roadmap for the future. He had to create a zero-based budget—and now must maintain it—while also ensuring that kindergarteners through high school students have the technology they need to succeed.

“We’re a taxpayer-funded district, and we should make effective and efficient use of all of our resources. Ultimately, we need to direct everything we do toward our students and their achievement,” Phillips told EdTech Magazine. “People in my position really should understand that you’re either behind or you’re ahead of the curve when it comes to educational technology. But you’re never going to reach the finish line because it’s constantly changing, constantly evolving.”