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March 18, 2013

Peru schools cashing in on software

District brings in $200,000 from sales of academic program

PERU — A computer program developed by the Peru school district that tracks students’ academic development has started generating revenue for the district after officials decided to sell the software to other Indiana schools.

School officials first started developing the program called Academic Monitoring Package (AMP) four years ago to compile students’ academic information that had previously sat inside boxes and filing cabinets all over the district.

George Morris, technology and programming specialist in the district, said the program gradually grew into a full-scale package teachers could use to view students’ academic progress, create lesson plans and submit official paperwork to the district.

“It’s really become a vital part of teachers’ life everyday here at Peru schools,” he said. “We thought if this is working so well for us, other schools would be interested in it, too.”

In 2011, the district copyrighted AMP and put it on the market for sale to other schools. Within a few months, Morris said nine districts had purchased a one-year subscription to the software.

By the end of the 2012 school year, sales of the program generated nearly $80,000 for the school district. Morris said that was enough money to pay for nearly all the salaries of the four employees in the district’s technology department.

The AMP software is currently being used by 26 districts, including Northwestern in Howard County, and will bring in $125,000 to Peru schools.

Morris said the goal is to have around 20 districts signed up to use the program at an annual rate of $7,500, which would generate $150,000.

He said having more than 20 districts using the software would strain the district’s technology department, which monitors the software for other schools districts and helps with installation and upkeep.

Morris said there are currently programs on the market similar to AMP, but many can cost up to $50,000 annually.

“We’re selling our program for pennies compared to other companies,” he said.

Morris said he’s never heard of another school district creating and selling a program designed by its own employees. He said AMP has been a financial boon for Peru schools.

“I feel great about it,” he said. “It didn’t cost the district any money to develop, and now it’s helping Peru schools in both annual revenue and academics.”

Teachers can use AMP to look at testing results and other academic information for every student in the district. Morris said it helps teachers identify students who are struggling, and helps them develop plans on how to assist students who fall behind. He said the program has 25 distinct applications school staff can use.

Carson Gerber is a Kokomo Tribune reporter. He may be reached at 765-854-6739, or by email at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.

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