Jan 07 2009

Security, Staffing and Solutions: IT Goals for 2009

IT administrators share their New Year's resolutions.

IT administrators share their top goals for 2009.

What are your 2009 New Year’s resolutions? Lose that last — or first — 5 pounds? Read more books for pleasure? If you’re an IT manager in a K–12 school district, your goals might be more ambitious. Below, four IT chiefs reveal what they hope to accomplish this year:

Resolution: Improve LAN security

“As an IT manager at a K–8 school, I have to be concerned with one thing above and beyond the normal IT worries — security, redundancy and accessibility — and that concern is the students,” says Chris Bartlett, IT manager at Lawrence (Mass.) Family Development Charter School. “Kids are curious, and kids are smart. You never know where they’ll be sniffing around. So in 2009, I need to be even more vigilant with network security.”

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Resolution: Continue staff training

“IT staff training is always a concern because schools, just as, say, biomedical and pharmaceutical industries, use very specialized software packages,” says Bartlett. “So IT staffs the world over, including mine, need constant training regarding the packages they use.”

Resolution: Seek new collaboration with low-cost partners

“Budgeting technology in a school system is always a critical balancing act,” Bartlett says. “As we all know, money is tight in our business, and we must squeeze $100 bills out of pennies. As a department head, I resolve to be far more aggressive in seeking donations and reduced-cost products and services.”

Resolution: Be undeterred by budget cuts

“Both our budgets and our staff have been cut deeper and deeper. But as a member of the larger district community, I realize that we are not alone,” says Greg Poulos, systems specialist at Newton South High School in Newton Centre, Mass. “Our goal for 2009 and moving forward is simply this: We need to continue to provide service and support to our end clients. They include the teachers, staff and students. We are here to make their jobs easier. There is no choice. We’ll find a way.”

Resolution: Deploy an e-mail archiving solution

“Right now, our district is 11th largest in the country,” says Deepak Agarwal, CIO for the School District of Palm Beach County, Fla. “But backups are done on tape, and there’s a lot of call for data that we don’t have on hand. That’s why a priority for next year is to implement an e-mail archiving solution. The drivers for getting an e-mail archiving system are regulatory compliance, e-discovery and storage management. We have approximately 25,000 mailboxes, each with a storage capacity of 1 gigabyte.”

Resolution: Educate school board members on the need to keep I.T. gear up to date

“We’ve actually just gone through a period of three years where virtually anything we asked for, we got. But there is still a need for new equipment,” says Jack Smiley, senior technician, Worcester County (Md.) Public Schools.

Nearly 6,800 students attend 14 schools in the district, which has wireless Internet access in each of its high schools and high-speed T-1 lines at each school.

“We still have Windows 98 machines. I’d like everything to be at least Windows XP,” says Smiley. “We do have a new tech school that has already deployed Vista on close to 400 computers. But the people who hold the purse strings don’t understand that older systems need to be replaced.”

Resolutions From the Principal’s Office

Have you made 2009 New Year’s resolutions? If you’re a school principal, yours may look like the following list, compiled from a September poll of high school principals by the National Association of Secondary School Principals:

  • Spend more time with teachers 62%
  • Spend more time with beginning teachers 21%
  • Make more time for my own professional growth 10%
  • Attend more school activities 4%
<p>Purestock/JUPITER IMAGES</p>

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