Thanks to the residents of the ADM School District for showing your support for the district’s technology initiatives by passing the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy. This ballot measure, which will be implemented with no increase to the overall tax rate, will allow the district to make some much needed investments in our technology infrastructure, classroom and operational technologies, and systems that will allow for more efficient use of staff time and district resources. While the plan will evolve as the available technologies and our technology situation change, at a base level, this is what yesterday’s voter approval of PPEL will mean:
Expanded Student Technology Access
Existing lab facilities will be upgraded, while each building will see implementation of additional mobile labs and classroom technology, including access to additional laptops, iPads, Chromebooks, desktops, interactive whiteboards, and document cameras. Further, while PPEL can only be used for technology hardware and non-instructional software, it will allow the district to use existing technology funds to update software and to invest in grade and content-specific technology accessories to make the most of the technology we have available.
With a significant number of additional devices and newer devices that will be more heavily used, wired and wireless network upgrades will ensure that we have the network communication framework to handle the additional demand. A managed, enterprise-level wireless network will allow for much more efficient operation without the serious uptime issues faced with the current wireless network, and faster, more modern switching equipment will help to address current network bottlenecks.
Guest Network Access
Currently, the district’s wireless network limitations and internet bandwidth require us to restrict wireless access to district and staff devices only. After the infrastructure upgrades, we will have the capacity to create a guest wireless network that will allow students and guests to gain secure access to internet resources (still content-filtered as per federal law), without having an adverse effect or raising security concerns as it relates to district technology functions.
Building-to-Building Network Connections
Currently the district has a radio connection between the high school/middle school complex and Adel Elementary, and no connection to DeSoto Intermediate. PPEL will allow us to lease a fiber connection between buildings, dramatically improving network performance and our management capabilities at Adel Elementary, while eliminating the need for redundant servers, internet service, and certain networking equipment in DeSoto. This investment will also allow the district to explore offering services such as video on demand, virtualized application delivery, and district-level authentication and data storage.
As previously mentioned, we will be making a significant investment in classroom technology, bringing classrooms up to a baseline standard that includes a mounted projector, MimioTeach device that converts a regular whiteboard into an interactive whiteboard, a document camera, and integrated speakers. While this is not a limit for classrooms, establishing a solid standard will allow the district to make better use of professional development time, and will allow teachers to make plans based upon reliable access to certain core technologies.
Network Management Software
In addition to funding a conversion to industry-standard Microsoft Active Directory as an authentication framework, PPEL will also allow the district to invest in Casper Suite management software, which allows for much greater control of software deployment, updates, imaging, inventory management, status checks, remote management, and so forth than what we currently have in place. ADM does not have a large IT department, and this type of system is crucial to ensure that our approximately 750 computers can be managed efficiently and effectively. Further, this software will also enable management of apps and configuration of iOS devices (like iPads), making possible a large-scale iOS deployment.
Equipment Replacement Cycle
While the average age of the district is currently 7.2 years, PPEL will allow the district to implement a 5-year replacement cycle on computers and most other technology equipment (where appropriate), which brings us in line with standards (most districts operate on a 4-5 year cycle). More importantly, 5 years is generally the age that can be reached while supporting the most modern operating systems and software, so this sustainable replacement cycle will help us ensure that we can run current software and can standardize to the most appropriate operating system. Whereas the district is currently supporting five different operating system versions on our Apple computers alone, implementation of our PPEL plan will reduce that number to one.