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What They Do on Their Summer Vacation

© Digital Vision Photography / (RF) / Veer
© Digital Vision Photography / (RF) / Veer

Those lazy, hazy vacation days may be here for teachers and students, but for IT folks, summer means time to catch up. Time to do the necessary repairs that can’t be done with students, teachers, and office staff around. And time to do something they would never think of doing during the school year: Replace and rework the school’s digital infrastructure and even shut down the network.

We asked three IT directors from districts big and small across the country about their summer plans. To nobody’s surprise, none of them expects to be hanging out at the beach with a cool drink.

Scholastic Administrator: What can you do over the summer that you can’t do during the school year?

Bill Knauer, Director of Technology, Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, NY: We have two laptop programs: one for our middle school and one for our upper school. Over the summer about a quarter of our students purchase their notebooks for the coming year. We receive the systems, unpack them, install the school’s software image and get ready to distribute them at the beginning of the school year.

Themy Sparangis, Chief Technology Director, Los Angeles Unified School District: This is the perfect time to make a school’s individual changes into a permanent fix. Where a school has created a workaround to get them through the school year, we come in, thoroughly troubleshoot the problem, and make the change permanent.

Tom McClung, Executive Director of Information Management Services, Omaha Public Schools: We will be doing some specific projects in several schools to rewire and upgrade their cabling. In others, we’ll be installing some new equipment, such as lab equipment for a couple of magnet schools.

SA: Is this a good time to catch up on maintenance?

Knauer: It’s a good time to go around and touch every machine to make sure it works well.

Sparangis: It’s a good time for maintenance in some areas, like for those schools where we’ve built up a backlog over the year. We look for the opportunity to work with the school to catch up on projects. We do this during the winter break as well.

SA: What network changes are you planning to make?

Knauer: The lease on our network equipment is up this summer, and we’ll talk to vendors about how to re-architect our network. We don’t plan a new topology, but we’ll go in and make some specific changes.

Sparangis: Sometimes in the process of providing regular maintenance, we have provided a service to a school. But we know that to do it right, we would have to bring down the school’s network. Summer is the time to do that. We perform a thorough problem-solving of the trouble and make it work correctly.

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