Olentangy Valley News

Students will return to more-reliable web access

Work to improve wireless network underway at all Olentangy school buildings, set to wrap up before new year

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Olentangy schools will complete two projects this summer that will keep its students connected for years to come.

Mike Testa, director of technology for the Olentangy Local School District, said the district plans to complete its wireless density expansion and network infrastructure improvement projects before students return in the fall.

The wireless expansion project, approved last fall by the school board, has a budget of around $550,000. Testa said the goal of the project, which already is underway, is to have wireless access points in every classroom of every building on campus.

"What we have done is to increase the density of that so you can have more access for more students," he said.

Testa said work on that project has been ongoing since it was approved and should be completed before the summer ends. He said the increased number of wireless devices in school buildings, and their importance to education, necessitated the project.

The wireless expansion will be finished about the same time as another effort to improve the district's online capabilities.

In May, the board approved nearly $332,000 for the purchase and installation of new infrastructure and equipment for the district's network.

The board contracted with Pittsburgh-based Black Box Corp. for the equipment and installation. The equipment costs about $317,000, while the installation costs ran about $15,000.

"We're redesigning and rearchitecting our network," Testa said of the project.

That redesign, Testa said, will include introducing redundancies that will prevent students and teachers from losing Internet access if one of the network's lines fails.

"If someone's digging outside, or one of our lines gets cut, we have an additional way to get information out of the building," he said.

As with the wireless expansion project, the network infrastructure project will include equipment upgrades at each of the district's 23 buildings.

With Internet access becoming increasingly important for projects, presentations and tests, Testa said losing access for even a short period of time can be a disadvantage to the district's students.

With the completion of the projects, district officials said students will return to school in the fall to find an Internet that's faster, easier to connect to and less likely to fail.

Testa said that, while technology is constantly improving, the two projects should serve the district well over the next several years.

"We probably won't need to upgrade again for at least five to seven years," he said.

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