As always, it’s been a busy summer in the CCSD Technology Department. For most years, I would share what our summer projects in the spring. But, this year with all of the budget uncertainty, I didn’t know for sure what we would be able to do until after summer had started. So, better late than never; here’s a list of projects we are currently working and some possible projects that we roll out during the school year if there’s room in the budget.
Student MacBook refresh. As part of our sustainability plan, we updated 25% or student Macbook fleet. This is just a little over 300 devices. We integrate all of these to incoming 10th graders while we are loading and reconditioning the entire 1,200+ unit fleet.
Staff MacBook refresh. Again, just like with students, we update 25% of our staff Macbooks each year. We set a side eight days each summer to work with each staff member getting a new computer. This year we updated about 120 staff computers. One of the cool things that’s a bit different this year is that about 30% of staff getting new computers just wanted us to give them a clean system. This is really different and interesting. The staff doing this got their new computer right way — no delay — which I’m sure was appealing. The other inference we made is that this shows a lot of teachers are really taking advantage of all of the storage options in Google Drive. We hope that percentage increases each year. I’m personally really looking forward already to the summer of 2018 when I’m scheduled to finally get an update — I’m last on the list 🙂
Student Chromebook Roll Out. There was some good budgetary news here! In our sustainability plan, this year we had planned to get Chromebooks for all incoming 6th graders as well as 60 devices for each of the elementary buildings excluding Hill. The thinking here was that Hill already had devices would not need to update this soon. However, the Chromebook bid this year came in low. So, we elected to enough devices to start refreshing Hill’s Chromebooks a year early. So, we purchased just under 800 Chromebooks. All elementary buildings will be getting 60 units earmarked for 2nd grade. We also took the best of what was left from this year’s 9th grade turned in HP Chromebooks and got them ready for use with all of Creek’s 5th graders. Last year, all 5th graders had access to a Chromebook that stayed at school, but they were some of the oldest in the district. These devices will be an upgrade.
New Student Device Bags and New Bag Policy. We bought new bags for all of our student devices that go home. We think these bags both look better — they have Prairie logo embroidered into them — and be more durable. So, we replaced all 1,200 bags for the MacBooks and we’ll give over 400 of these to 6th graders this year. We are making a change to our bag policy this year, too. Students in 7th through 9th grade will keep the bags they currently have. However, we will not be replacing any bags during the school year. If a student loses or ruins a bag during the year, it will be the student’s responsibility to find a bag or container to keep the CCSD device safe. We expect both Chromebooks and MacBooks to be transported in a bag/sleeve when ever they are in transit. Students in grades 10th and 11th grade will be charged a fine for bags that are missing or damaged at spring Macbook turn in. We will replace ruined or lost bags for 10th and 11th graders each summer. The reason we will not fine 6th -9th graders is that we don’t intend to have the device and bag returned until the end of a student’s 9th-grade year. While we believe these to be good bags, we don’t expect the bags will be in good enough shape to redeploy after four years of constant student use.
Lab Update. We updated the video production lab at the PHS. This lab requires really robust computers. The software requirements out strip what our student MacBooks can handle. The last time we updated this lab was over 5 years ago.
Prairie Creek Network Update. This project was not planned. In the middle of June, construction crews hit and destroyed the fiber optic cable running from our data center in PHS to Creek. In most cases, fiber lines are located when there is digging/boring in an area. However, this cable was installed in 1991 or 1992. Prairie was one of the very early adopters of fiber optics. Since this was so new, the installers did not think to include a locator line with the cable to find it later. So, no one really knew the exact location of the cable. This was laid long before I got here and before Duane Carver worked here, too. When the cable was knocked out, we used that as an opportunity to run a new cable that had better speed capacity — and, of course, we included a located line for future reference. With this new cable, we were able to add newer electronics to the Creek connection and increase the connection between PHS and Creek from 1 gigabit per second (GBPS) to 10 GBPS. This is a tenfold increase in capacity.
Food Service and School Office/Clerical Updates. We will be updating all food service point of sale computers and head cook computers this summer/fall. We are still waiting for these devices to arrive, so this change might happen is some or all buildings after school starts. We are also going to update several building office computers after school gets going.
Miscellaneous Updates. We also have a number of other small, but still significant projects we are engaged with this summer. For example, we will be reloading elementary MacBooks (about 50-60 in each building) to bind them to Active Directory. We will be updating the Digital Art lab at Prairie Point with 13 inch MacBooks. We also need to create the new software load and reimage all three of the Project Lead the Way labs, too. And, there are a few cases where building budgets have purchased hardware to mount projectors.
While we’ve had summers with more projects in the hopper, we are still keeping very busy getting ready for the 2017-18 school year. Depending on how the budget situation and construction plans go, we might have the opportunity to engage in some additional projects as well during the school year. If we do get the green light to do some extra work, I will keep everyone in the loop with project details and timelines.