Alliance Schools Technical Lead: The district has state-of-the-art equipment

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Technology permeates every facet of operations within the Alliance City School District.

It must therefore be consistent across all eight buildings in the district – Alliance Early Learning School, Alliance Elementary, Alliance Intermediate, Alliance Middle School, Alliance High School, Parkway Learning and Development Center, the Bus Garage and Glamorgan Castle, home to the administrative offices.

The person responsible for this is Alliance City Schools Chief Technology Officer Chad Morris, who shared several fun facts and insights about his position at a recent Alliance Rotary Club meeting.

team effort

Morris, an Alliance High and Mount Union graduate who has worked in the district for 20 years, stressed that maintaining Alliance City Schools from a technology perspective is a team effort.

“It’s not just me keeping it all going,” Morris said. “We have several people working on our team.”

Morris’ team also includes Rich Fraser, a Kent State graduate who worked with Alliance City Schools for 36 years in the IT support staff department; John Marchick, an Averett University graduate who worked as a network technician in the IT department for six years; and Misty Sampson, a Malone graduate who has worked in the district for 27 years as a technology resource teacher and trains and supports staff on the use of technology and also works in the computer help desk.

Additionally, each of the district’s six educational buildings has a library resource clerk who helps guide operations in their respective school.

The IT department is responsible for the repair of all computers, iPads and printers, key card access, management of the alarm system, network and wireless problems, updates and maintenance servers and maintenance of the neighborhood’s many projectors, televisions and smartboards.

Fun facts

  • With each student receiving one type of device (those in grades K-8 receive touchscreen Chromebooks, while those in grades 9-12 receive iPads), the IT team oversees more than 3,500 computing devices , which also includes Macs and Windows PCs.
  • The district also has more than 150 printers and photocopiers.
  • At any one time, the district may have more than 4,500 devices connected to the wireless network.
  • Over 300 security cameras are in use in the district, all of which can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. There are also more than 60 cameras on school buses in the district.
  • There are over 400 Voice Over IP phones in the district.

How they connect

Alliance City Schools connects to the Stark/Portage Area Computer Consortium, which is hosted at Stark State.

The district uses its own fiber optic connection directly to the data center at SPARCC, one of 18 information technology centers in the state.

“We have all of our own fiber in the district,” Morris explained. “The initial cost of running all of our own lines was around $250,000. But since we own the line, we have no cost for it, so the initial investment has paid off. »

SPARCC provides the district with filtered internet access, hosted services such as the district’s student information system and tax management software, and group purchasing opportunities.

organization, communications

In addition to the many educational technology apps that teachers and students use as part of classroom instruction, the district also uses technology to stay organized and communicate with parents.

Alliance City Schools uses eSchoolPLUS to keep track of information about each student, including their schedule, attendance, behavior records, grade reports, and status reporting requirements.

It also uses FinalForms, which makes it easy to record and track all emergency medical forms and other compliance forms such as press releases and acceptable use policies.

With FinalForms, coaches and teachers have access to vital information about every student accessible from a mobile device during sporting events or field trips.

For communication, the district uses ParentSquare, a unified messaging platform for staff, students, parents, and teachers that sends messages via text, email, and app notifications.

New VoIP phones also allow teachers to call a parent at home from their cell phone, but make it look like they’re from the district, so they don’t have to give out their numbers. personal phone.

Even track and field is starting to get technological advancements as the district has started using hudl, a tool that allows coaches and athletes to review game footage. The technology also allows the game footage to be digitally shared and streamed live.

Safety first

“Besides the education of our students, safety and security is one of our primary goals,” Morris said. “We use several different technologies in this regard.”

Morris briefly spoke about six different vendors the district uses for safety and security, including:

  • Alertus, which allows managers to send an alert that locks down a building with the press of a button.
  • exacq, which operates the neighborhood security cameras.
  • Total Connect, which allows school staff to arm and disarm alarms for each building anytime and from anywhere.
  • Kantech, which allows staff to grant or deny access to all buildings and set schedules to lock and unlock specific doors for special events.
  • Raptor, a system that scans a visitor’s driver’s license from any building and performs a series of checks to ensure the individual is not on any sexual predator lists or lists created by the district which would alert staff that the individual is restricted.
  • Here Comes the Bus, an app that tracks a child’s school bus. Each bus in the district is equipped with a GPS receiver. The Here Comes the Bus app allows parents to track the bus until it arrives at their home and sends an alert when it is within a certain radius of a child’s home. Each child has a barcode, which is scanned and can identify when a child gets on and off a bus.

How is all this technology funded?

“The Alliance City School District has always been a tech-savvy district and has always invested well, including some of our ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds,” Morris said. “The other really big help for Alliance City Schools in particular is what’s called the eRate program.”

Morris said that because Alliance is designated a poor neighborhood, it gets a 90% discount on any of its internet or network access equipment.

“It’s been like this for about 20 years,” Morris said. “We really benefited a lot from this federal program.”

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