The Stark-Portage Area Computer Consortium (SPARCC) is an Information Technology Center (ITC) providing technology related services and support to its member districts. Internet access is an essential component of the whole package of services offered by SPARCC. SPARCC is able to offer this service in a manner that provides many tangible economic and operational benefits to the member districts.
- This service is designed solely to meet the unique needs of Ohio schools and is managed by its member districts. SPARCC has a direct connection to the Ohio high-speed network enabling the shortest path to other entities on the network including the Ohio Department of Education.
- As a result of its membership in the SPARCC consortium and receiving Internet access through the Ohio Education Computer Network (OECN), member districts receive thousands of dollars per year from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) from the funds set aside for network connectivity for K-12 schools. ODE funds this initiative in an effort to promote equity of access across Ohio.
- SPARCC obtains access to the Internet at very favorable rates and passes these savings on to its member districts. A portion of the cost for Internet access is subsidized by ODE. Member districts save thousands of dollars per year as a result of this arrangement.
- The OECN has access to the Internet2 network and provides this access at no charge to districts connected to the state network through the ITC’s. Each member district saves thousands of dollars per year by not having to purchase access to this valuable resource.
- SPARCC includes many features within its Internet Services which are absolutely necessary for the school district’s operation. These features include filtering of web resources and electronic messaging, firewall services, network address translation, domain name services and malware protection. Member districts save thousands of dollars per year by not having to purchase these items.
- As a member of the SPARCC consortium, member districts participate in the group purchasing and information sharing activities involving all the member districts. While it is difficult to put a price on the benefits, the value to the district is significant.
- As a member of the SPARCC consortium, member districts have access to Google Certified Teacher and Google Apps Trainer on staff. This certification illustrates their ability to provide support for a resource that a growing number of school districts are using. Training in Google Sites, Google+, Google Apps, Google Docs and Google Forms has been and will continue to be offered to the member districts.
- As a member of the SPARCC consortium, member districts have access to a technology integration team which works with teachers and school administrators to improve instruction through the use of technology.
SPARCC is a voluntary consortium in which the member districts set the policies and procedures in a democratic fashion. By participating in the group, the individual members are able to gain the advantage of economies of scale while meeting their individual needs. The Internet Services are established using strategies to maximize the funding and discounts available and satisfy the operational requirements of the member districts.