Infrastructure and Connectivity

Making everything happen depends on the reliability, flexibility, and suitability of the District Network. Day-to-day work, student content applications, state reports, communications, and much more depend on internal as well as external connectivity.  Reliable and fast connectivity to the global network has become an essential part of modern life.

The school district is constantly evaluating whether the benefits of new technology will meet the needs of its users. The District Technology Director is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the computer infrastructure is adequate to meet the needs of all stated district goals.

  

Internet and Internal Connectivity

As of Fall 2016, the District has a 400 megabit fiber-optic connection to the Wyoming Equality Network, a statewide network of school districts. higher education institutions, and government agencies.  The WEN has a multi-gigabit connection to the global Internet.

All our schools use the shared 400mbit connection for Internet access.  The connection enters the District at Lander Valley HS, and internal connections to other sites radiate from LVHS.  We provide the following bandwidth for each district site:

  • Lander Valley HS / Baldwin Creek: 4 gigabit internally-owned fiber connection
  • Central Admin / Swimming Pool: 200 megabit internal connection
  • Pathfinder HS / Lights-On: 200 megabit internal connection
  • Lander Middle School: 200 megabit internal connection
  • Gannett Peak Elementary: 200 megabit internal connection
  • Jeffrey City School (rural): 10 megabit VPN connection over multiple carriers to internal network
  • Warehouse: 100 megabit wireless connection

We employ several security solutions to ensure the District is complying with CIPA federal law, as well as to shape network traffic to reduce unwanted bandwidth usage.  Access to different websites is determined by user type (staff or student) as well as by network (district network vs. guest wireless).

  

Infrastructure Highlights

For the 2016-2017 school year, the following major events have occurred: 

  • Chrome OS now runs on 60% of our total computer count, with Windows 7 at 30% and IOS at 10%.. The District has about 2,400 total computers for staff and student use.  Windows computer labs at Gannett Peak were replaced with Chrome desktops
  • One-to-one rolled out to LMS 8th and 7th grade classrooms  
  • Third year of LVHS one-to-one program (new Chromebooks this fall)
  • We now manage fewer than 42 servers onsite (physical and virtual), giving Tech Office staff more time to work positively with teachers, staff, and students instead of managing servers.
  • Wireless infrastructure improvements at LVHS and LMS (phase 1 of 2)

For the 2015-2016 school year, the following major infrastructure changes are being made:

  • Continue to decommission on-site servers (physical and virtual), with their workload moving to the cloud.
  • Replaced old internal network wiring at our Swimming Pool site
  • Wireless replacement at our new Central Admin site as well as at Baldwin Creek Elementary, as well as select locations at Lander Valley HS.
  • A more modern network VLAN design is being piloted at new Central Admin building.

For the 2014-2015 school year, the following major changes were made:

  • Continuation of server consolidation as more older on-site servers are decommissioned, wiht their workload moving to the cloud.
  • Replaced old internal network wiring at our Warehouse / Bus Barn site.
  • Finally installed wireless network access to patrons out at the LVHS Bleachers.
  • Rewiring and network rebuild at the Starrett site during the building remodel.  The rebuild includes replacing old network wiring at both Starrett (to prepare it for the Admin renovation) as well as at the Pool site.

For the 2013-2014 school year, the following major changes were made:

  • The all-new Gannett Peak Elementary school building was brought online, with over 450 wired network ports and 30 wireless access points.
  • Wyoming ETS state agency supplied fiber-optic connectivity to all District sites, including the remote Jeffrey City School.
  • Server consolidation and older servers decommissioned as more server workload moves to the cloud.  One major change was the rollout of Google Apps to replace an onsite Microsoft Exchange server installation.
  • Increase to wireless network capacity at Lander Valley HS in preparation for the one-to-one initiative scheduled for Fall 2014.

For the 2012-2013 school year, the following major changes were made:

  • A new modern content filtering system has been installed July 2012.  This new filter performs much faster than our older solution, while providing much easier and more powerful management as well as clear reports.
  • Inter-building connectivity speeds have been increased by 100x to 200x faster than they were during the previous school year.  The District now has leased fiber-optic connections between all in-town schools back to the core network.
  • A new PC management solution has been purchased that makes the management of our 1,900 computers much easier.  This new solutions offers inventory management, automated patch and system updates, power saving management, software installs, and more.  This new solution is almost like having "an additional employee in a box" who saves us a considerable amount of time and effort with day-to-day management jobs.  We're expecting this purchase to pay for itself just with the power management features (more on this later in the school year).

Previous changes (from 2008-2012) included:

  • A major network replacement project was completed in our fiber-optic connected schools in the fall of 2008. Over 1,000 gigabit PoE switch ports were installed at four school sites.  A new core network switch directs traffic for the entire District.  Significant shortcomings in traffic routing and capacity were overcome by this upgrade.
  • Baldwin Creek Elementary School network wiring was completely renovated. During this renovation, IP phones were added for all staff as well as additional computers and network capacity.
  • A new school, Lander Middle School, was brought online in August 2011.  The new school has over 500 network jacks, a highly-redundant wireless network, environmental and power monitoring, and numerous other technological features.
  • To handle the increased number of computers and devices in our schools, every network jack at Lander Valley HS, Lander MS, and Baldwin Creek Elementary has been made live.
  • A new centrally-managed district wireless network was implemented.
  • A total rebuild of our Active Directory network domain was accomplished during summer 2009, bringing consistency, standards, and current best practices to our system of network servers, accounts, shares, and security. Twelve new servers were purchased to replace aging units. A new domain name, landerschools.org, was purchased and implemented as the name of the new network domain.
  • Server virtualization, network management software, and other “back-end” initiatives have allowed Tech Office staff to make better use of their time and tech funding.
  • A cooling system was added to our core server room, and servers were mounted in secure network enclosures that allow much better access to equipment and wiring.
  • A total rebuild of our IP phone system was completed in the summer of 2011.  A new phone platform was installed with new IP phones at Admin, LVHS, Pathfinder, Lander MS, Baldwin Creek, and the Warehouse.  The new system allows modern features lke two-way Caller ID, voicemail integration with Windows, easier management, and many more features.  The new Gannett Peak Elementary school building (currently under construction) will also join this new phone system, making all District classrooms and offices available via a four-digit extension scheme.

  

Interoperability

Starting in 2008, it became a goal of the Technology Office to ensure that all staff receives an identical, rich network experience. Previously, different computer platforms (Windows, Macintosh) were in use at different schools, and there was little consistent software between buildings (and sometimes within the building as well).

After the summer of 2009, all District-managed computers are either Windows PCs, Chromebooks, or iOS devices. A consistent list of “baseline” applications was created and installed on all District managed PCs to ensure that staff and students can work on data and software on any computer the District owns. This is a large list that contains a great deal of open-source and freeware software that can be applied across the educational spectrum.

An ongoing goal of the Technology Office is to ensure that new purchases of hardware and software are compatible with our hardware and existing software. Procedures are in place to ensure that new purchases meet the District’s standard for interoperability.

  

Equitability

The District strives to ensure equitability of resources for all students. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project and Intel Corporation, there are still 30 million American households that do not have a computer. This gap in access is troubling as technology has become a baseline need for social, civic, economic and educational participation. Students in the 21st century must be equipped with the skills and tools to succeed and participate in our increasingly technology-rich, knowledge-based economy.  When instructional technology is purchased in the District, a process is in place to ensure that all students have equitable access.

 

You can continue reading in the next section, Instructional Technology