GCS: Is saving $50k a year not enough for you to try new IT methods?

I would imagine that $50,000US could hire another teacher, staff member, or give a scholarship grant.
Are parents and teachers concerned if their children have the best resources in schools? I would imagine so. While I am not a parent, nor a teacher (although some may say that I am), I try to help educate by applying whatever means necessary to bring the school’s maximum potential to play for minimal cost.
In other words, I try to save them money through alternative means in information technology.
All schools should have people that are looking for alternative ways to save money and maximize budget. Interestingly enough, Weaver Academy has a solution to solve an ongoing Internet issue that Guilford County Schools has been battling for the last couple of years, and has offered to be the test site of this solution.
Answer from Guilford County Schools IT? Silence. Not a word.
In fact, as of the last School Board meeting, the meeting notes have GCS IT asking for more money for bandwidth issues. Let me be the first to say that there is no “BANDWIDTH ISSUE”. It’s a bottleneck in the network on how content filtering is implemented. For the people that do not understand techie, content filtering is what makes it so the kids cannot view porn sites and other non-educational sites.


Problem: Guilford County Schools IT has had network issues as of late due to students having more and more online interactive coursework. Two major factors to this bog-down of the network which is easily fixed if someone bothered to just go and re-think the network.
1) The network runs on VPNs. Virtual Private Networks bog down a network since it creates a tunnel inside the current network. Think of fitting a smaller pipe in a larger pipe. No matter how you try, you will never get as much water through the smaller pipe as the bigger, but that’s what you pay for when you want the security of the VPN.
2) They run ALL 100+ schools in the county to ONE point, the facility on Prescott. Any middle schooler can tell you that if you have all the cars from all the freeways ending up in one single point, there will be traffic and congestion. The current content filtering system footprint is at this location. This system also costs the school system $60,000 a year to run for all 100+ schools. One box, 100+ schools. You do the math.
Solution:
Myself and another of the CTP Business Council met with the Guilford County School IT at Weaver a couple months ago. The way I saw it, I proposed breaking out the school’s Internet access so that the filtering was done at the school. In this fashion, the issue with the bad network design would slowly resolve itself as each school filtered its own content. GCS IT said sure. Give us $60,000 a year to run another box. Obviously they never learned from the second point above. Then the complaints went to there not being enough staff members to support and they were bogged down by current projects. In any case, I proposed we look into a linux box running a content filtering system solution. Price of savings for the school district? $50,000 with brand new equipment. We proposed that this system was to be installed by GCS IT during Spring Break of 2005, and tested at Weaver. Thus, GCS IT would have total control of the box itself, although my services were offered to do the install if they were not able.
Current scenario: It’s been a week after Spring Break. One of the IT kids that keeps me informed on Weaver’s standings told me the Monday after that nothing was done. You cannot believe the outrage for myself. I offer to do this on my off time, and I do take personal vacation to actually help these kids (yes, folks… gape in awe that I use parts of my 2+ weeks of vacation for a good cause). I even offered to do it, and to contact anyone from the IT Business Council for help if they needed it.
Silence.
Today (Apr. 14th), I was informed by Adam Wenner (brilliant IT extraordinaire of Weaver) that our backup linux box was finished building. The credentials on this kid are amazing (won state in computer applications and is going to the national competition). We had spoke of having a backup plan in effect when nothing was done this Monday.
So now we have the box ready to roll, no money out for the schools, and to disband the current content management system would save a magnitude of $50,000+ dollars a year. I think $50k is enough to hire another IT employee. Word from GCS IT?
Silence.
Synopsis: SO all of this leads me to voice out to the parents and teachers that are interested in their children’s computer resources at school. The world is evolving, everything uses technology to drive home the education.
Why won’t GCS IT look to open-source products to maximize monetary efficiency? It seems that the IT kids at Weaver certainly understand this concept.

  • posted my comments on my blog

  • posted my comments on my blog

  • Rob

    If you ever save that 50K I be happy to help dismantle the centralized content filtering architecture.
    I think in this case GCS is just following the State’s IT lead. But, in the State’s case it’s all T-1 carrying the load back to Raleigh.
    There’s no fiscally responsible reason for DSL homeruns to the C.O. when less expensive, decentralized options exist for GCS.
    The centralized network architectures seem to only serve the career and salary advancing objectives of those in the C.O.

  • Rob

    If you ever save that 50K I be happy to help dismantle the centralized content filtering architecture.
    I think in this case GCS is just following the State’s IT lead. But, in the State’s case it’s all T-1 carrying the load back to Raleigh.
    There’s no fiscally responsible reason for DSL homeruns to the C.O. when less expensive, decentralized options exist for GCS.
    The centralized network architectures seem to only serve the career and salary advancing objectives of those in the C.O.

  • Every school has fiber or is going to have fiber upgrades. It has nothing to do with DSL nor T-lines. The issue is bad network design. If you bottleneck your traffic at one single point, it wouldn’t matter if you have an OC-3 or a T-1. You’re still caught in the bottleneck.
    I have to give GCS IT for at least meeting with the Business Council. But it’s ridiculous when taxpayers are paying for services when no one is trying to maximum cost effectiveness.
    I know plenty of smaller districts that barely get enough for their teachers, but they get by on their information technology fine.
    If Greensboro even has a Business Council to support the district, what gives?

  • Every school has fiber or is going to have fiber upgrades. It has nothing to do with DSL nor T-lines. The issue is bad network design. If you bottleneck your traffic at one single point, it wouldn’t matter if you have an OC-3 or a T-1. You’re still caught in the bottleneck.
    I have to give GCS IT for at least meeting with the Business Council. But it’s ridiculous when taxpayers are paying for services when no one is trying to maximum cost effectiveness.
    I know plenty of smaller districts that barely get enough for their teachers, but they get by on their information technology fine.
    If Greensboro even has a Business Council to support the district, what gives?

  • Schools and Open Source

    Networld World has this great short article on schools and open source. Opening line grabs me silly when I apply the line to Guilford County Schools: Schools need to save money (know any school districts so rich money doesn’t matter?)…

  • Schools and Open Source

    Networld World has this great short article on schools and open source. Opening line grabs me silly when I apply the line to Guilford County Schools: Schools need to save money (know any school districts so rich money doesn’t matter?)…