188.8.131.52 Hardware and Network Infrastructure
Bath County Public Schools includes two elementary schools and one high school situated in a rural community in the west central highlands of Virginia, with a mountain separating one elementary school from the other sites. Total school division enrollment is nearly 650 students, PK-12.
The school division is in the process of upgrading the process by which schools access divisionwide and internet resources. The wide area network that has been in place for several years no longer meets our needs, given the increased demands for inter-school network and internet bandwidth, and our increased reliance on browser-based services, including our student information system library catalog/circulation systems. The current wide area network connects the two division elementary schools to the high school via T1 (1.5mb) lines. Inter-school and internet access is provided via these data lines. The high school has a symmetrical 5mb internet circuit that provides access to all school staff and students. The School Administration Building is served by a 3mb (3mb downstream/.5mb upstream) DSL connection.
Beginning in March 2011 and to be completed by July 2011, Bath County Public Schools will dismantle the wide area network currently in place, and enable the two elementary schools to independently receive their internet connection from local internet service providers and by adding a firewall and content filter at both sites. Bandwidth at Millboro Elementary School will increase from the 1.5mb (downstream/upstream) T1 line currently in place, to a 5mb (5mb downstream/1mb upstream) microwave circuit. Valley Elementary School’s bandwidth will increase from 1.5 mb (downstream & upstream) to 15mb downstream/1mb upstream. Likewise, the School Administration Building’s bandwidth will increase to 15mb downstream/1mb upstream. The elementary schools and central office share data with the main servers at the high school via a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection. Bath County High School bandwidth received an upgrade two years ago, from 3mb (bonded T1) to 5mb (Symmetrical DSL). The removal of the elementary schools from the high school connection in Spring 2011 will provide a significant boost to BCHS access speeds.
Email, web hosting, student information systems, library catalog/circulation, content filtering, virus protection and system updates are provided through division technology resources located at Bath County High School. Cisco switches and routers manage network traffic within and between division sites. Cisco wireless access points are positioned throughout all buildings to provide a thick blanket of coverage for wireless applications.
Bath County Public Schools has about 500 network/internet connected desktop, notebook and tablet computers in classrooms, mobile & fixed computer labs, libraries and offices. All classrooms have one or more Pentium IV or newer computers for teacher and student use, with most machines at a Core 2 Duo processor level. Both elementary schools have two computer labs plus a mobile lab; the high school has three computer labs plus two mobile labs, in addition to portable computers available in the distance learning classroom. The low pupil-computer ratio in all three schools provides for easy access to computers for individual students, small groups and entire classrooms, PK-12. Both regular education and special education programs have equal access to computer labs; specialized assistive technology is used by many students with special needs. The typical lifespan of computers in the school division is six to eight years, with desktop workstations typically outlasting notebook computers.
Each school has had a server onsite to support file and print sharing. The elementary schools also both have servers to support an integrated learning system lab and a new comprehensive reading instructional program. Although server resources have significantly increased in recent years, hardware virtualization has enabled a much more cost-efficient delivery of services with fewer servers to purchase, maintain and power. The high school houses divisionwide server resources, including three virtualized servers that host a number of virtual machines (VMs) for functions such as email, web hosting, student information system, library software, and many others.
Network security and protection from virus threats have prominent roles in Bath technology infrastructure. Group policy restrictions administered through the network help tie down computer settings and funnel web traffic through a content filter, and comprehensive anti-virus software is deployed and updated via network procedures. Computer workstation updates are managed with an automated system to more reliably maintain machines and to reduce staff time previously required to accomplish these and other update tasks.
Technology staff have learned a lot about wireless technology in the last few years. Although many of our notebook computers have relied on wireless access points for internet and network connections for many years, our increased dependence on this technology has required a much more powerful solution to ensure adequate coverage in classrooms. Bath County Public Schools now has 40 Cisco 1130 access points mounted on ceilings of our three schools.