State Auditor Shad White visited the Academy of Innovation on Tuesday to present the Vicksburg Warren School District with the first Mississippi Public Innovations and Efficiencies (PIE) Award to be given by the state.
VWSD was selected for the PIE Award for their overwhelming success in increasing the accessibility and scope of technology district-wide and their proactive approach to keeping students safe online.
“It’s great when the Auditor’s office gets to honor good work by someone in government, and that’s the purpose of these PIE awards. We want to encourage new thinking that saves taxpayers’ money,” said Auditor White.
Auditors were particularly struck by a portion of Vicksburg Warren’s PIE application. Within days of implementing a new software program meant to prevent students’ unsafe online behavior, school administrators were alerted to a student’s concerning online activity. The alert indicated the potential for self-harm. A principal immediately contacted the student’s family. By implementing the software, VWSD was able to help prevent what might have been a tragedy.
“A child’s life is priceless, and it’s great to see an innovative practice helping the taxpayers and simultaneously protecting our most precious resource: Mississippi’s children,” said Auditor White.
The innovative use of technology in Vicksburg Warren School District has also reduced the risk of ransomware (and the losses to taxpayers that can come from paying a ransom) and reduced the risk of computers being misplaced or stolen.
“Cybersecurity may not be the first thing people think of when they consider the field of education, and yet we focus on protecting students and staff each day from cyber threats. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and our Technology Team, along with our vendor partners, has made great strides in keeping our students and staff safe online,” said VWSD Superintendent Chad Shealy. “We appreciate being recognized by the State Auditor, Shad White, for this important work and look forward to continued collaboration with the Office of the State Auditor to continually improve our effectiveness in all areas as we work together to serve children.”
In January, White announced that his office created the PIE award to recognize government offices for the ways they cut costs, reduce waste and improve efficiency in the workplace.
“In the Auditor’s office, we spend a lot of time identifying where taxpayer money is stolen or misspent. We decided to follow Iowa’s lead and also highlight places where government is working well,” said Auditor White. “Patting someone on the back when they do well is important for encouraging good behavior and innovation in government.”
VWSD was the first institution to be recognized by the new program, an event celebrated over (what else?) pecan pie. Learn more about the districts integration of technology inside and outside the classroom by watching the video below.