School district to launch its own wireless network

Maple Dale-Indian Hill to break from Glendale-River Hills

May 16, 2007

Next year, the Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District will have an independent wireless Internet network.

The Maple Dale-Indian Hill School Board approved a technology proposal May 14 that includes the new wireless network as well as a wide area network redesign plan among other technology initiatives.

The unanimous vote came following a discussion between board members who aired concerns about the district's current technological status and the ability of a single technical professional - the proposal's author, Craig Terlau - to manage and respond to the district's technology systems.

"I'm dedicated to making technology work in this district," Terlau told the board.

The network redesign plan would reconfigure the Maple Dale-Indian Hill district, making it completely technologically independent from the Glendale-River Hills School District. Presently, the Internet connection for the MDIH district is routed through T1 Internet circuits to Glen Hills School.

Terlau claims his plan would offer cost savings as well as increased network performance by replacing four leased T1 Internet circuits with a high-speed wireless bridge between Maple Dale and Indian Hill. The bridge will have a connection speed up to seven times faster than what is currently available through the T1 link to Glen Hills School.

The cost for the district to lease the circuits is $8,448 annually. To establish the wireless bridge - at a speed of 17 megabytes per second - between the schools, a one-time cost of $8,500 is incurred.

The new Internet setup would facilitate a Wide Area Network - an internal network which connects multiple buildings - allowing the district's network access point to be Maple Dale rather than Glen Hills, the current hub.

The district can't avoid investing in technology, said board member Jane Guffy. It needs to play some catch-up, streamline operations and move forward, she continued, and to have a trusted technology professional at the helm is important in such a small district.

"I like the fact that I know who Craig is and I know who will be doing our stuff," she said. "It's a security piece for all of us that I don't think we can put a dollar amount to."

Among the initiatives outlined are: the creation of a district technology plan for 2008-11; network home directories; automated software updates; shared file areas for staff and students; file server cleanup; mail accounts for students; new open-source applications; and voice-over-Internet protocol telephones.

Terlau, the district's current technology professional, requested continuation of his current 40 percent employment. He also works for the Glendale-River Hills district.

The board also considered a competing proposal from a technology consulting firm, Heartland Business Systems, but some members said it did not offer enough to compete with Terlau, whose asking salary is $35,000.

"It seems to me speed and those kinds of issues are really secondary to keeping cost restrained and, at the same time, offering some way forward," said board member Mark Goldstein.

Terlau will begin the reconfigurations right away, and anticipates being finished by June 30.

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