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Mechdyne helps school district with support line

T-R photo by Lana Bradstream Marshalltown Community School Board members Karina Hernandez, Bob Untiedt and Sean Heitmann sit between barriers during their first in-person board meeting since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having a technology help line on the first day of school came in handy as the Marshalltown Community School District received at least 300 related questions on Tuesday.

The Marshalltown Community School Board approved a statement of work between the district and Mechdyne for a support helpline that will help answer questions in the areas of technology, online learning and general information. The helpline comes with an estimated three-month total of $29,550.00. Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds will be used for payment until exhausted.

Technology Director Amy Harmsen said Mechdyne had been working with other school districts across the nation to provide helplines for times like these when a large number of students are learning online at home.

“With so many people calling with questions, there just wasn’t enough infrastructure in any department to handle the influx of calls and emails,” she said.

Harmsen said it was recognized that Mechdyne provided an opportunity that could be utilized for a short period of time. She communicated with other districts, such as Council Bluffs which reported 800 phone calls in one day with technology questions.

“We saw we had a need for a centralized help desk,” Harmsen said. “So I asked Mechdyne to put together a proposal.”

The local connection Mechdyne had to the school district gave them the advantage of knowing the proper people in the district to talk to, she said.

Another company that bid for the helpline was Riverside Technologies, Inc. (RTI), which would have cost $24,501.

Superintendent Theron Schutte said even though RTI had the lowest bid, using Mechdyne was better due to its Marshalltown location.

“Whenever a local company is within striking range and there are advantages of going with them, as Amy shared with their knowledge already of our district, of the schools in our district, people in our district, processes we use, we will tend in those occasions to recommend the local business,” Schutte said. “Mechdyne’s obviously been a tremendous partner with us.”

Because it was necessary to set it up in advance for the first day of school, Harmsen said the contract was put into effect for the first day of school, prior to the approval from the school board.

“I would just like to say that as of today, I asked them to give me a quote for 750 calls a month. Today we had 300 calls to Mechdyne alone and they were able to solve 257 of them. They routed the rest to us which were high-level tech concerns,” she said. “We had a lot taken off our shoulders and the shoulders of administrators.”

Harmsen said Mechdyne does not have any confidential district or student information. Any calls that require such information are routed to the district.

HELP LINE:

People with technology questions can reach the help line by dialing 641-754-1001.

Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

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