Hello from the New Ulm Schools Technology department. This week last year, I was excited to be joining the District 88 staff as the new Technology Director. Over this past year, I have enjoyed getting to know the staff and students of the district. It has also been interesting to learn about the different ways New Ulm Public Schools has overcome the challenges of providing a quality education experience these past few years with students in and out of the classroom.
With the additional requirements of classroom streaming options last year, it was identified that our data usage was meeting its maximum capacity some days and would not be able to be expanded past a 1 Gigabit connection. To address this limitation over the last year, we completed an upgrade of our network equipment to provide a 10 Gigabit connections to each school in the district. This improvement will allow the district to scale up our internet connection past 1 Gigabit during times of heavy usage.
One other area identified as a potential need for the district was to provide internet access to families who had none, or it was spotty at best. The district purchased hotspots through a T-Mobile Schools program that can be handed out to provide internet access at home. We were able to acquire 70 of these hotspots with the ability to receive more if the need arises over the next three years. Requests for borrowing these hotspots are handled in each building’s office.
One of the ongoing challenges with school district technology, and technology everywhere, is the balance between security and usability. With that in mind, we have been working to deploy multi-factor authentication to different critical infrastructure applications. We have also entered into an agreement to start a continuing security assessment and improvement practices program. In this process, a company will evaluate our district’s security practices and network vulnerabilities then they will then provide recommendations on improvements and fixes to vulnerabilities that we can implement. This will be an ongoing process as we work to continually improve our security posture. This process will be starting later this spring and into summer.
I was excited to start working with New Ulm Schools last year at this time, and I am still excited to have the opportunity to keep moving things forward today.