Tri-Village News

Guest column

School district's technology is constantly improving

Wednesday November 28, 2012 10:56 AM

The use of technology has become an important part of all of our lives. It has become increasingly important for us to incorporate technology in many aspects of our students' educational opportunities.

To help our families better understand our focus on providing improved opportunities for our students, I have asked Brad Pettit, district director of technology services, to update the community on our efforts to improve technology use and increase access throughout the school district. The following comments reflect Brad's response:

"When I was first hired in August 2010, the superintendent asked me to complete an internal evaluation of the district's technology infrastructure. This would include the equipment that stores the district's data, secures our Internet access and connects the computers to the network. After finding several necessary updates in all areas of technology, I shared the evaluation with the superintendent, the board of education and the Grandview Technology Advisory Group (a group consisting of staff, community members and former students). I recommended a two-year, multiphase project.

"In November 2010, the Grandview Heights community passed a permanent improvement levy as the primary source of funding for these necessary updates. These funds allowed us to start the first of two phases in January 2010. The first phase would include a replacement of our entire computer network, updates to our file servers and firewall and the installation of independent cooling in our network closets. I estimated these costs to be $190,000.

"Phase One was completed by the start of 2011-12 school year and under budget, at a cost of $171,178. The effects of these updates were immediately noticeable: The time for students and staff to log on were dramatically shortened and Internet access was much more responsive.

"The second phase upgraded our wireless network, Internet content filter and backup equipment. Phase Two also included adding a server rack to consolidate and secure most of our equipment in one location.

"Phase Two was completed in May 2012, providing an instant benefit to the classroom, allowing an increased number of computers to be connected to the wireless at the same time.

"High school social studies teacher Jason Peters noticed a difference in service: 'The network upgrades have been incredible. When I first arrived in Grandview, technology was a detriment in the classroom as it was unreliable. Now it is truly an asset that is used daily in my paperless classroom.'

"Phase Two also allowed students, staff, and visitors the ability to access the district's Internet through their personal wireless devices. The new Internet content filter increased our control over websites and services available to students and staff.

"The district is taking measures to make sure future technology infrastructure projects will be smaller updates instead of full-scale projects. I will continue to provide the superintendent with annual estimates for maintenance and service costs. This will allow the district to budget for the necessary changes as technology advances.

"The best way to measure a network's reliability is by calculating service uptime -- that is, the percentage of time our network, servers and Internet are working properly during the school day (7 a.m. to 4 p.m.). For the 2011-12 school year, I was very happy to report to the board of education the district's network uptime was 100 percent. All other services were above 99.5 percent.

"None of this would be possible without the support of the Grandview Heights community. The permanent improvement levy passed in 2010 helped pave the way for the school district to provide many services to students that were not available beforehand. We are moving forward with some amazing initiatives and projects that will require safe and reliable access to technology. We will continue to improve and enhance our use of technology in ways that will impact student learning and achievement."

Ed O'Reilly is superintendent of the Grandview Heights City School District.

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