renaissance

Getting High Tech Up to Speed

The school district’s new tech director vouched for the necessity of spending $900,000 over the next year to get the district up to speed with the high-tech direction public education is rapidly taking.

“Speed is our biggest issue,” Mike Morrison, who was hired in February as the district’s chief technology director, told school board members Tuesday. The board approved a contract with Aliso Viejo’s Resilient Communications to install small things that will make a crucial difference, Morrison said, in improving the power and speed of each classroom’s wireless internet connection.

With $400,000 as the maximum amount, the actual amount for immediately purchasing and installing such equipment as network switches, cables, modules, transceivers and relay devices is $275,000, according to Dean West, the district’s assistant superintendent in charge of business services.

“There’s probably six or seven different transmissions of data going from the access point on the wall to the switch in the closest, then to the district office and out to internet services with the county to make sure that the material is appropriate for students then going to our internet service provider,” said West.  “So it goes through a lot of devices in order for that device in the classroom to work.

“If you change out one device, it doesn’t necessarily speed up if you don’t change out the other five as well.  It’s a major project.”

Resilient, a vendor approved by the state Department of General Services, will have the new infrastructure equipment installed by June 30, says a staff report.

The board also approved spending up to $500,000 for new laptops, Chrome Books and desktops over the next year and has already purchased 144 Chrome Books.  The district recently purchased state-of-the-art equipment for wireless access points in each classroom with money provided by Schoolpower, a nonprofit fundraising group that’s been giving money to the district from private donors for 20 years.

The goal, said West, is to equip every classroom for fast wireless connectivity to students’ personal computers, whether they eventually bring their own or use a laptop, Chrome Book or desktop provided by the district.

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