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June 22, 2004 > FUSD Board Approves Technology Funding

FUSD Board Approves Technology Funding

by Gary Leatherman

At its June 9 meeting, the Fremont Unified School District Board of Education approved investing up to $526,000 over the next two years to upgrade and improve the district's technology network at the junior and senior high schools. The project is to be funded from revenue anticipated from the lease of the Marshall Elementary School buildings to a private school.

The funds will be used to upgrade wiring, servers, switches and other network equipment in the district's wide-area network (WAN) and local-area networks (LANs). The WAN connects the district to the Alameda County Office of Education, which provides the district's Internet access, and connects the school sites to one another. The LANs connect school servers, computers and printers to the district network.

District Management Information Systems Director Roxanne Harbor said the rapid expansion and demand on the current network is causing slow data access and is causing many of the district's desktop computers to operate below capacity. Harbor said the district WAN and junior and senior high LANs must be upgraded over the summer to assure that the district network and equipment can run the new student data information system, Maximus, which is scheduled to go on-line in September. Maximus is replacing the current student information network, Prime, which is almost 30 years old.

The new student information system will enable the district to track K-12 student information more efficiently, schedule junior and senior high school classes and report attendance electronically. Maximus is expected to greatly improve the use of registration data for developing master schedules at the secondary schools. In order for the Maximus system to operate efficiently, however, the WAN and LANs must be upgraded and each desktop unit at the junior and senior highs must be connected to the district network.

The district has a district technology plan that was approved by the Department of Education and the FUSD Board two years ago. A major component of that plan was an

E- Rate grant of almost $10 million to address the WAN/LAN issues and desktop technology. Unfortunately, that grant has yet to be funded. In the meantime, the Board and administration agreed that the district must begin to upgrade the WAN and LANs so the transition to the new Maximus system in the fall will be successful.

Superintendent of Schools John Rieckewald said, "The WAN/LAN improvements not only will support the Maximus student data information system, they also will upgrade the district's connectivity to the Internet and the secondary schools. This is the first step in expanding the utilization of technology at the secondary sites to track important student data."

"We understand that the community has little interest in funding technology just for the sake of technology," Rieckewald said. "The goal of technology must be to impact the classroom and our instructional programs. However, that cannot happen until the connectivity to the sites and classrooms is in place.

"It's really a chicken and egg issue. We want to improve the use of technology in the schools but need to have the district network system in place to do that. This is the first step to expand the district network so that instruction can be impacted in the future.

"To offer our students and staff the kind of technological support they need, we will require a multi-year plan and significant improvements to the existing network and hardware. Although small, this is the first step in that direction."

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