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New wireless system coming to Nevada Schools

By the end of January 2014, the Nevada School District will have a new wireless network.

Joe Wakeman, school technology director, said the upgrade to the Aruba wireless system will significantly expand the district’s network capacity and will provide continuity districtwide, by having the same wireless network in all of the school’s properties. Currently, there are different networks in each of the different buildings.

On Monday morning, as it turns out, the school had a problem with the current wireless system and Wakeman told board members at the Monday evening meeting that he had to call people in to fix it, costing the district $800. This, he said, wasn’t the first time people have had to come in to fix something with the current system. He said several thousand dollars were spent on fixes over the summer, too.

With the Aruba system, Wakeman said his own staff can troubleshoot problems that arise on their own, not costing the school money to bring in outside techs.

The total districtwide upgrade to Aruba is $81,471, money which was budgeted for upgrades in this year’s and next year’s budgets. Wakeman said he believes by spending all the money now, the school will save the money that might be needed for additional repairs that arise on the current system. He also said that the Aruba system pricing is lower if the school replaces everything at once, as the pricing on the package is based on the volume being purchased, along with a buyback program for current wireless hardware that Aruba offers.

“I already have these projects budgeted for,” Wakeman explained in his information to the board. “No new money is requested or required.”

Board President Marty Chitty felt that the project had been pretty well thought out by Wakeman.

Board member Tori Upchurch asked if guests will be able to access the new wireless network. Wakeman said that guests will be able to access it. “It’s a real easy process to connect,” he said, noting that even though guests can connect, the district’s private information is still protected.

Wakeman added that the new system will also help him identify rogue hotspots being used in the district with pretty good accuracy, and he said Aruba is good with its trade-in program.

Even though it was agreed that the price was a big chunk of change, the three board members present – Chitty, Upchurch and Dave Sutherland – approved the purchase.

“You either do this or continually hobble yourself along the way,” Chitty said.

The new wireless network will take about a week to install, Wakeman said. He also noted that when the changeover happens, it will happen quickly, with no major break in wireless service.

Board member comment

Upchurch pointed out that Nevada School District was mentioned in the most recent Iowa Department of Education’s Monthly Journal as one of the districts to receive a “gold level performance standard” on its “Certified Enrollment Update” reporting.

“I know Nancy Port (Nevada’s director of School Improvement) puts of a lot of work and emphasis on getting this information to the state on time and that it’s accurate. I’m very impressed that she can do this year after year,” Upchurch said, noting that the only other schools in the county to get this award for two years now include Ames and Roland-Story.

Superintendent Steve Gray added that Port is assisted by Doris Mohr, the district’s technology assistant, who works with student information, and a number of the district secretaries in making this Certified Enrollment Update a successful endeavor for the Nevada School District.

Balanced calendar update

The Nevada School District is considering the implementation of a balanced (year-round) school calendar, and those interested in that process should know that the district just completed a survey of its employees.

Depending on the results of the survey, the district will either determine there is “not enough support to continue” with implementation of a balanced calendar, or that there is “enough support to continue” looking into this. If there is enough support, based on the staff survey results, a public forum will be held sometime in January or February about the balanced school calendar.

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