Mt. Pleasant School District takes a step up in speed and efficiency
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
More speed and efficiency.
That’s what an overhaul of the Mt. Pleasant Community School District technology infrastructure achieved recently.
“We did an assessment of everything — hardware and software — and found that you could not get a whole lot (of use) out of some the old infrastructure,” Jason Schroeder, a senior solutions consultant, told the Mt. Pleasant School Board during its regular monthly meeting last night.
“Due to the age of some of your infrastructure, you couldn’t get the speed and it was not efficient,” Schroeder said. “Plus, you had no easy way to manage it. There were a lot of bottlenecks.
“We redesigned it so traffic will be more efficient, we opened more bandwidth,” he continued. “We basically took a holistic approach to give you a more efficient environment.”
He said some of the equipment was a decade old or older, well past its life expectancy. “There were two common themes. The first is the age of key infrastructure components such as the core and access switches, firewalls, web filtering, appliances and servers in the environment. New web-based applications and increased availability to data requires up-to-date infrastructure to provide acceptable user performance. Many of the infrastructure components are end of sale and are at or nearing end of support. The core switch is too old to provide the backbone performance for the Mt. Pleasant Community School District.
“The second major theme was the lack of centralized management and reporting, especially with an IT staff of two,” Schroeder said.
Bandwidth was increased through the overhaul, the technician noted, which will provide increased speed and performance of the system.
He said the improvements will last 10 years or longer. “There is plenty of room for what you have today,” Schroeder remarked. He suggested the district draft a three-year replacement plan. “That way you could incrementally adjust things along the way and you would not need a forklift approach.”
The technology report led to brief, passing discussion about the 1:1 initiative. Mt. Pleasant is one of two county schools that does not have 1:1 and some larger area schools, such as Washington and Cedar Rapids Prairie (College Community) are implementing the plan this year. Central Lee began its 1:1 initiative last year.
Superintendent Dr. John Roederer said that as far as he is concerned the jury is still out on the 1:1. “Research is still vague whether the 1:1 is beneficial or not. Just to jump into the 1:1, you have to have the infrastructure. What they are finding is that it (1:1 is so new, it is difficult to have data on it.”
The 1:1 initiative is basically computers for kids. School districts enter into an agreement with a computer manufacturer to provide laptop computers to students, generally beginning the initiative with high school students. Some Iowa schools are entering the fifth year of the program (Winfield-Mt. Union is beginning its fourth year). Some Virginia schools have had the program for 11 years, the State of Maine instituted the program nine years ago, some Texas schools have had the 1:1 for nine years, Michigan, Florida and Pennsylvania schools have had the 1:1 for six years.
A Google search of the Internet also revealed numerous research studies on the 1:1 have been conducted.
Board member Regina Erickson agreed with Roederer’s sentiments. “I think there are a lot of questions to be asked and answered on the 1:1. Do teachers know how to use it? Is the infrastructure sufficient? Do we have enough support staff? I think all these questions have to be answered.”
Roederer said he felt use of 1:1 would depend on the instructor. “I think we will see more of it getting into the classroom. You have some teachers who will be ‘rocking and rolling’ with it and others who won’t. We don’t know what will happen in three years with technology.”
The district paid $7,500 for the network analysis and new equipment and the system upgrade cost $152,117.57.
School Improvement Advisory Committee members met recently and drafted their recommendations to the board for the coming year. The recommendations follow:
• Implementation of the data team process — “Mechanism to identify the flaws in the system and take immediate corrective action”;
• Process for improvements in place – provide the resources;
• Increase family engagement at each of the schools;
• “Showcase” the achievements of the MPCSD students;
• Transition between grade four and five.
In personnel matters, the following contracts were approved: Nick Maynard, junior-varsity girls’ basketball; Carol Giesel, Lincoln Elementary School one-on-one para-educator; and Dawn Dietzenbach, Harlan Elementary School secretary.
The following resignations were accepted: Barb Johnson, Harlan Elementary School secretary; Shawna McCabe, assistant varsity softball; Kristine Jeffrey, Lincoln para-educator; Adrienne Liechty, middle school social studies; and Kelsey Rose, middle school one-on-one para-educator.
Roederer told the board that school registration went well. He said the district will have approximately 145 kindergarten students. “Hopefully, the enrollment will stabilize somewhat.”
Directors meet again in regular session Monday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. in the high school media center.