Milford schools

Cybersecurity, smartboards and Chromebooks top New Milford schools’ tech demands

NEW MILFORD — New Milford Schools is aiming to head off any cybersecurity threats with a proposed upgrade to its technology system.

In the district’s five-year technology capital request, which totals about $478,000 for the 2022-23 school year, the district’s acting chief technology officer, Jaime Terry, said one way to prevent threats cybersecurity is to regularly replace firewalls when current hardware has reached its end of life. .

“If you let it expire, you’re going to face security vulnerabilities,” she said.

To that end, it offers a high-availability firewall for $70,000.


Another device related to security on the budget is called “hard tokens”.

This device would be provided to teachers so that before accessing their district email, they would need to authenticate using this tool.

Hard tokens are estimated at $17,000 for 600 devices.

Terry also offers wireless controllers, for $30,000.

“These controllers are the brains of wireless transmission in your district,” Terry said. “If these go beyond their end of life, there are security vulnerabilities, but you also risk your internet service not being available to your students in their classrooms.”

For certain items of the technology budget, the district is eligible for an E-rate grant, which is a federal program that ensures schools and libraries have access to affordable telecommunications and information services.

Chromebooks

A request for student Chromebooks under the five-year proposal is listed at around $204,000.

The district’s current Chrombooks all expire by 2024 in terms of lifespan and the district is “very low on stock” of these devices, Terry said.

To this end, the district has shared devices.

“Schools are sharing equipment of whatever is available to ensure students are not left without devices, so they can continue their education,” she said.

She added that device warranties have expired, which means repairs can take longer and cost more.

“If you wanted to put these devices under warranty for a year, it costs about $95,000, or more than $300,000 if we wanted to put them under warranty until 2024,” she said. “I wouldn’t recommend that.”

Instead, she recommends starting a “refresh plan” from the 2022-2023 school year.

“The cost is around $200,000, but you buy a warranty with those and you get another four years,” she said.

Families may have the option of self-insurance for their devices.

Technical packs, Smart Boards, projectors

Tech packs, which are used for kindergartners and newly enrolled students, are listed in the plan for $39 each. Each student receives a briefcase, a mouse and a pair of headphones.

Neither the case nor the headphones can be reused if a student leaves school and returns the tech pack, due to the ongoing pandemic.

Additionally, Terry said the smartboards and projectors in all classrooms were in poor condition and should be replaced.

“This will be a very big project for your district and definitely one that needs to be started,” Terry said, adding “it takes a long time to implement a project like this.”

She said these devices are end of life. “If you walk into some classrooms, the visibility is very poor,” she said. “The screens appear white. It is very difficult to see what is actually on the screen.

Also, in lower grades, the interactive touch features of Smart Boards don’t work, she said.

On projectors, bulb replacements are a permanent need for supply in the budget.

“The projectors are also aging and over ten years old, so they overheat,” she said.

To replace or repair these items, Terry recommends a “step-by-step” approach. The capital request for them is $35,000, which would cover 15 boards to be replaced each year.

The project paves the way

Engineering desktop computers for Project Lead the Way, an engineering program for students, is also a budget item.

“The engineering program uses industry-based software. It is powerful software that must have specific hardware requirements for the software to run smoothly,” Terry said.

The total lab replacement cost is $75,000.

A detailed breakdown of the five-year technology capital budget is available on the New Milford Board of Education website. The entire New Milford School Board will review the capital plan in January and make changes, if necessary, at that time.


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