The Berks-Mont News (http://www.berksmontnews.com)

Kutztown School Board approves technology upgrade


By Dan Clark, For Journal Register News Service

Friday, April 19, 2013

Kutztown School Board approved a $171,500 technology infrastructure upgrade.
Dr. Christopher Harrington, director of Bridges Virtual Education School, addressed the board April 15 about the technology budget for the 2013-14 school year.
“The vision is to provide reliable and current resources,” Harrington said.
Harrington recommended the board consider using General Funds to get the work done this summer rather than next summer when prices for installation and equipment may change.
The board voted unanimously to use the General Fund to pay for the software updates in the 2012-13 fiscal year which ends on June 30 of this summer.
“The plan is to complete the installations and upgrades over the summer because some of the work could be disruptive to the network,” said David Miller, KASD Acting Business Administrator and Board Treasurer.
Miller said that the money to finance the project will come partly from what is left over from the Kutztown Virtual Academy which was given a budget of roughly $200,000 for this year.
“We’ll spend around $100,000 on the Virtual Academy by the time the year is done,” Miller said.
The final budget for the infrastructure updates is going to cost the district around $171,500 to complete the upgrades. Those upgrades include implementing virtualization, upgrading building to building connections, creating a separate firewall and unifying networks.
The board expects with less devices and more energy efficient devices to make significant savings in cooling costs which is one of the highest continuing cost with maintaining computers and servers.
During his presentation, Harrington explained that as he was looking into the school’s technology resources he found that teachers did not think that the juice was worth the squeeze because the resources were out of date.
The computers are also running various types of software which makes collecting assignments more difficult because there is not one uniform type software throughout the district.
The broadband in the building is weak and the more people are trying to access the Internet, the slower it is, which is where the school district faces problems.
One of the main problems that will be fixed over the summer is the need to virtualize the servers. Right now the district has about nine servers in the high school that connect the entire district together.
Virtualizing the servers will mean getting rid of those nine and condensing them to two large servers.
The board asked Harrington what would happen if one of the servers broke down.
“Each server runs on 50 percent, so if one breaks or malfunctions the other can pick up the slack while the other is going to be fixed,” Harrington said.
Another problem that the school faces is the network connectivity. Student ambassador to the board Jordan Kemp mentioned that there was a problem connecting to the Internet in more than just the high school.
The technology upgrades will allow students to gain access to the Wi-Fi in any of the buildings rather than just the building they spend the majority of their time in.
The budget also calls for an update on the current firewall. Harrington explained that the firewall that the district has now acts as a firewall and a content filter. He said that there should be a singular firewall and a singular content filter so that each reaches its full potential.